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LSU Plays Role in Discovery of New Species of Bird in Cambodia

LSU Plays Role in Discovery of New Species of Bird in Cambodia

06/25/2013 04:01 PM

BATON ROUGE – A team of scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society, BirdLife International, LSU, the University of Kansas and the Sam Veasna Centre have discovered a new species of bird with distinct plumage and a loud call living not in some remote jungle, but in a capital city of 1.5 million people. LSU and the University of Kansas did the DNA analysis necessary to declare the species new to science.
 

Called the Cambodian tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk), the previously undescribed species was found in Cambodia’s urbanized capital Phnom Penh and several other locations just outside of the city including a construction site. It is one of only two bird species found solely in Cambodia. The other, the Cambodian laughingthrush, is restricted to the remote Cardamom Mountains.
 

Scientists describe the new bird in a special online early-view issue of the Oriental Bird Club’s journal Forktail.  Authors include: Simon Mahood, Ashish John, Hong Chamnan, and Colin Poole of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Jonathan Eames of BirdLife International; Carl Oliveros and Robert Moyle of University of Kansas; Fred Sheldon of LSU’s Museum of Natural Science; and Howie Nielsen of the Sam Veasna Centre.
 

The wren-sized gray bird with a rufous cap and black throat lives in dense, humid lowland scrub in Phnom Penh and other sites in the floodplain. Its scientific name ‘chaktomuk’ is an old Khmer word meaning four-faces, perfectly describing where the bird is found: the area centered in Phnom Penh where the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac Rivers come together.
 

Only tiny fragments of floodplain scrub remain in Phnom Penh, but larger areas persist just outside the city limits where the Cambodian Tailorbird is abundant. The authors say that the bird’s habitat is declining and recommend that the species is classified as Near Threatened under the IUCN’s Red List. Agricultural and urban expansion could further affect the bird and its habitat. However, the bird occurs in Baray Bengal Florican Conservation Area, where WCS is working with local communities and the Forestry Administration to protect the Bengal florican and other threatened birds.
 

This same dense habitat is what kept the bird hidden for so long. Lead author Simon Mahood of WCS began investigating the new species when co-author Ashish John, also of WCS, took photographs of what was first thought to be a similar, coastal species of tailorbird at a construction site on the edge of Phnom Penh. The bird in the photographs initially defied identification. Further investigation revealed that it was an entirely unknown species.
 

The last two decades have seen a sharp increase in the number of new bird species emerging from Indochina, mostly due to exploration of remote areas.  Newly described birds include various babbler species from isolated mountains in Vietnam, the bizarre bare-faced bulbul from Lao PDR and the Mekong wagtail, first described in 2001 by WCS and other partners.
 

For more information from the WCS, contact Stephen Sautner at 718-220-3682 or ssautner@wcs.org, or John Delaney 718-220-3275 or jdelaney@wcs.org.

 

MULTI-MEDIA
High resolution images, video clips, sound files, background information and the paper describing the Cambodian Tailorbird may be downloaded as follows:
Photos (Credit: (c) James Eaton / Birdtour Asia)
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Cambodian-Tailorbird-22-1.jpg
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Cambodian-Tailorbird-25-1.jpg
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Cambodian-Tailorbird-30-1.jpg
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Cambodian-Tailorbird-35-1.jpg
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Cambodian-Tailorbird-41-1.jpg

 

Forktail paper
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/TAILORBIRD_Forktail_29pp1-14.pdf

 

Supplementary online material

 

Sonograms etc.
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Mahood_et_al_Tailorbird_SOM_May_2013.pdf

 

Videos
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Mahood_Media_File_SOM1.mov
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Mahood_Media_File_SOM2.mov
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Mahood_Media_File_SOM3.mov

 

Recordings
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Mahood_Media_File_SOM4.wav
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Mahood_Media_File_SOM5.wav
http://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Mahood_Media_File_SOM6.wav

LSU Research Communications
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