The Island Biogeography of Birds on the Wakatobi archipelago

The white-eye populations from all four major islands are morphologically distinct from each of their neighbours

The white-eye populations from all four major islands are morphologically distinct from each of their neighbours

Recent work on bird populations on the Wakatobi archipelago has revealed that many smaller bird species are morphologically and genetically distinct from their mainland relatives. The outcome of this work could be that the Wakatobi islands qualify for Important Bird Area status.

Since 1999, we have been making occasional visits to islands in the south-eastern corner of Sulawesi, initially under an MOU between Trinity College Dublin and the Wakatobi Regency and with support from Haluoleo University in Kendari and more recently as part of the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB Bogor) and University of Hull research programme covering the islands of SE Sulawesi.

We have been focussing our investigations on the bird populations there, and have been mist-netting birds during these visits. This has provided us with a wealth of morphological data (over 1900 individuals) from more than 60 bird species caught on 12 different islands (including Buton, Kabaena, mainland Sulawesi).

After the status of the new species is confirmed, the Wakatobi islands will be able to lay claim to at least three endemic bird species

Sample recordings were made on each island, near the netting sites. This has allowed us to embark on phylogenetic analyses of the local bird populations to complement our morphological studies. The genetic studies are rewriting the textbooks: there are manuscripts in preparation to describe three new bird species from the Wakatobi islands (Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia and Binongko, as well as Hoga).

Smaller bird species on Wakatobi

There are consistently different patterns between Buton/Sulawesi populations and Wakatobi populations that demonstrate a lack of mixing. This lack of mixing leads to reproductive isolation of the Wakatobi populations from the mainland and justifies their separation as full species.

In addition, a new, endemic resident species on Wangi-wangi was discovered in 2003. This new species has yet to be formally identified or named, as currently, no specimens exist in any museums. After the status of the new species is confirmed, the Wakatobi islands will be able to lay claim to at least three endemic bird species. That will qualify the Wakatobi islands for Important Bird Area (IBA) status under BirdLife International criteria, assuming all of the endemic bird species are considered to be “vulnerable” or “endangered”. If that does happen, the Wakatobi islands will instantly become Sulawesi’s most important IBA.

Differences between islands

While taxonomic categorisation is an essential aspect of any study, it is usually just the beginning. This has proven to be the case in the Wakatobi islands too. Once visits had been made to each of the four major islands on the Wakatobi, it became clear that each of the islands supported different numbers of the various species.

Even some satellite islands of the major islands differed in terms of the number of species present, and their relative abundance. These differences can provide insights into evolutionary processes and the types of barriers that isolate populations. For example, Wangi-wangi’s endemic white-eye (currently without an official name) occurs only on the island of Wangi-wangi, despite there being two satellite islands within 1km of the shore of that island.

Wakatobi Flowerpecker

Wakatobi Flowerpecker

By contrast, the Wakatobi-wide white-eye (due to be renamed in 2013) occurs on Wangi-wangi and its satellite islands. The beak shape of the Wakatobi-wide white-eye differs between Wangi-wangi and the satellite island of Oroho. This difference is due to competition for food between the two white-eye species on Wangi-wangi and is an example of character displacement.

In addition to such examples of localised competition, there is evidence of much wider scale effects on some of the bird populations across the archipelago. The white-eye populations from all four major islands are morphologically distinct from each of their neighbours. While these differences are ultimately the result of competition, it appears that the driving force behind them is human impact on the islands. That means human influences may be accelerating evolution! That would be a truly remarkable discovery.

Similar investigations (including studies on the Galapagos islands) have only shown human influence to slow the processes that lead to speciation. The work to date serves to highlight the possibilities for study within the terrestrial habitats of the Wakatobi and demonstrate the archipelago’s potential as a living laboratory.

The Wakatobi is just one archipelago within the 17,000 islands of Indonesia and there are other islands in south-eastern Sulawesi that still have poorly documented avifaunas. While ornithologists added 71 new species to Indonesia’s bird list between 1992 and 2007 (Indonesian Bird Checklist no. 2), it looks like there are still a few more to find.

Written by

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

8 Responses to “The Island Biogeography of Birds on the Wakatobi archipelago”

  1. Renting office space includes a few added complexities we sometimes don’t think of.
    There are several other issues while square footage and leasing sufficient space is vital, that must be thought
    about when you rent office space. It is not saying when you rent virtual office Abu Dhabi space, you should just consider
    alternatives for added comforts and amenities.

    Review my webpage; المكتب الافتراضي

  2. Have you ever completed shopping online? You probably realize that although there are numerous similarities to conventional shopping, there are some variations as well if therefore.
    Because of this, you have in order to receive the most outstanding bargains, to be educated
    on the procedure. Have a look at this post for guidance that is exceptional which will help you.

    Feel free to visit my page: מעילים

  3. Whether you’re a beginning or advanced tap or ballet dancer,
    obtaining the right boogie floors readily available for using during lessons, activities
    and practice is crucial to having the ability while offering the greatest measure of safety to your own body, to perform
    the dance moves correctly. It is not unimportant if you’re thinking about getting dance lessons with an instructor
    that you locate a dance studio that provides
    a dancefloor acceptable for your search for ballroom
    or tap dancing. A proper dancefloor can also be a consideration if you wish
    to include some dance floors to a place of your own home to ensure
    you’ll be able to practice when you wish. Although they’re
    both types of dance, tap dancers and ballroom dancers require distinct characteristics from their boogie
    flooring in order to equally keep their physical well-being while
    performing their favourite type of dance floor hire.

  4. Life insurance isn’t something people typically like to think about.
    Sadly, many people avoid out it of not completely understanding
    it. Thinking of needing life insurance doesn’t need to be,
    also though it is frightful. It is very important prepare
    yourself and to think of it on what it actually
    is and what life insurance actually does.

    Feel free to visit my page … Toddler Bed For Boys

  5. Many site-building resources can be purchased in today’s market; nonetheless, most will light in comparison to your personal imagination. Learn how to make your
    fantasies possible. Should you use the proper tools,
    your dreams can come true. Keep reading to understand more Online internet marketing Dubai Dubai suggestions to add to
    your arsenal.

  6. Palls are extremely significant as they not just increase the
    rooms but additionally assist in controlling the
    quantity of light in them. Curtains retain the interference, as a result of points that are undesirable, out of the
    area and provide solitude. Bedroom drapes also act in the area as sound proofers.

    Feel free to surf to my webpage … blinds

  7. It is important you know the ins and outs so you understand how you
    can progress in regards to debt collector
    consolidation reduction. You will find several different alternatives, plus it’s important not unimportant
    that you are able enough to find out about them to see
    what fits your demands. Continue studying so that
    you can observe how debt collecting can assist you.

  8. The trick to becoming successful as an internet marketer is to have
    your own diseño de paginas web site
    selling a product or service. Are you aware edit one
    or just how to produce a page? There’s always a need to help you to Change a page, although the page was not created by
    you, and it’s also not hard to do with some advice. Someone just starting
    in Internet Marketing may well not have the budget to outsource,
    although if budget permits, you can outsource your
    layout.

Leave a Reply