Zosterops is a genus of passerine birds containing the typical white-eyes in the family Zosteropidae.
First introduced in 1827, the genus comprises over 100 species distributed in the Afrotropical, Indomalayan, and Australasian regions.
These birds are supreme island colonizers, which is why so many different white-eye species have evolved so rapidly, as different island populations become isolated and split off from their source population.
The most characteristic feature of Zosterops white-eyes is a conspicuous white feather ring around the eye, though some species lack it.
Scientifically named Zosterops paruhbesar, the new species is restricted to Wangi-wangi, a single island of roughly 155 km2 in the Wakatobi Archipelago, Indonesia.
“The new species is a particularly special discovery, as it is found on only one tiny island and its closest relatives live more than 2,900 km (1,800 miles) away,” said Trinity College Dublin’s Professor Nicola Marples.
“The bird remains locally common but its habitat is dwindling.”
Informally known as the Wangi-wangi white-eye, Zosterops paruhbesar is highly distinct both morphologically and genetically from other members of the Zosterops genus.
“It is considerably larger in body and bill size compared to other regional Zosterops species,” Professor Marples and colleagues said.
“Given its minute area of occupancy and the threat from the bird trade, we recommend the IUCN status Endangered.”
Zosterops paruhbesar is described in a paper published this month in the journal Ibis.
Mohammad Irham et al. A distinct new species of Zosterops White-eye from the Sulawesi Region, Indonesia. Ibis, published online October 11, 2022; doi: 10.1111/ibi.13148
This article by Natali Anderson was first published by Sci-News on 21 October 2022. Lead Image: The Wangi-wangi white-eye (Zosterops paruhbesar). Image credit: James Eaton.
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