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New to nature No 69: Mentocrex beankaensis

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:19 am    Post subject: New to nature No 69: Mentocrex beankaensis Reply with quote

div class="track"img alt="" src="" width="1" height="1" //divp class="standfirst"Unique plumage marks a new subspecies in Madagascar/ppWriting from the US during an election year, I read a lot about politicians terrified to address the unsustainable funding of social security entitlements, the so-called third rail of politics. So I was delighted to read about a team of ornithologists led by Dr Steven M Goodman of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago that was not afraid to tackle the third rail of Madagascar./ppThe forest-dwelling rail, emMentocrex kioloides, /emof Madagascar, has two subspecies. The nominate subspecies is found in the humid central and eastern forests of the island, while emM k berliozi/em lives in transitional dry deciduous-humid forests in the north-west. An adult and a chick were recently collected from limestone karst terrain in the lowland central west that did not fit within the known ranges of variation of either subspecies./ppThe adult, unique in its plumage colour and differing by considerable genetic distance from both subspecies, has been described as emM beankaensis/em. The name is derived from two Malagasy words – "hanka", the common name for the long-eared owl, and "be", which means many – that, combined, refer to the type locality as the place where the owl is common./ppBirds, like so many other groups of plants and animals, have an inordinate number of species endemic to Madagascar, and the difficult work of assessing genetic variation and sorting out all the species continues in a race against time as habitat is lost. In addition to both plumage and DNA distinctions, the new species is larger and apparently ecologically isolated./ppThe new species is so far restricted to parts of the Bemaraha and Beanka massifs at elevations from 100m to 320m. The area is marked by rock pinnacles known in Malagasy as emtsingy/em, which are found in valleys and canyons bordered by exposed rock and dry deciduous forest./ppToo little evidence exists to reach a clear decision on the conservation status of the new rail, but, if its geographic range is as narrow as it appears to be, there is reason for concern./ppOn the positive side, however, its habitat falls within the protected areas system of Madagascar and its type locality is managed by Biodiversity Conservation Madagascar./ppDealing with the third rail isn't always a bad idea./pp /pdiv class="related" style="float: left; margin-right: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;"ullia href=""Birds/a/lilia href=""Madagascar/a/lilia href=""Wildlife/a/lilia href=""Africa/a/lilia href=""Zoology/a/lilia href=""Biology/a/lilia href=""Animals/a/li/ul/divdiv class="author"a href=""Quentin Wheeler/a/divbr/div class="terms"a href="" copy; 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our a href=",,933909,00.html"Terms Conditions/a | a href=""More Feeds/a/divp style="clear:both" /
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