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Researchers Find New Colorful Bird Species in Indonesia

Jun 06, 2014 08:15 AM EDT
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Researchers have discovered a new bird species in Indonesia.

According to zoologists at Trinity College, Dublin, the new colorful bird species should be called the Wakatobi Flowerpecker (Dicaeum kuehni).

The discovery of a new bird species in Indonesia shows that a vast region of Southeast Asia is still under-explored. Recently, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature released a report describing over 300 new species found in 2012-2013 in the Greater Mekong Region.

After several expeditions to South-east Sulawesi and its offshore islands, researchers at Trinity College confirmed that they had found a new species. Wakatobi Flowerpecker looks similar to the Grey-sided Flowerpecker (Dicaeum celebicum), however, genetic tests show that it is a different species.

 "Accurate data on the distribution and status of bird species are regularly used to inform conservation practices and industrial development. As humans are changing the natural environments of Sulawesi at an incredibly fast rate, the discovery and description of species in the region is of major importance," explained lead author of the journal article and PhD student in Zoology at Trinity, Seán Kelly.

Sulawesi region is a part of a Wallacea, which is a hotspot for biodiversity. The region has a large number of birds, but it remains under-explored by zoologists.

Zoologists said that lack of detailed studies have led to different birds being clumped together as one species.

"This study also highlights the need for integrative, multi-disciplinary research in the region. Without this we will likely fail to recognise and appreciate the true biodiversity of this remarkable region. Furthermore, we run the risk of losing evolutionarily distinct species before we can even discover or enjoy them," Kelly added in a news release.

Wakatobi Flowerpeckers were found on a small group of islands. According to researchers, these islands are located in the Wakatobi Marine National Park, but receive no protection.

"The Wakatobi Islands are an incredibly exciting place to work and they serve as a unique living laboratory in which we can study evolution in action," said Dr Nicola Marples, Associate Professor of Zoology at Trinity and senior author on the paper.

The study is published in the journal PLOS One.                                        

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