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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 114(2)

The vocalisations and species status of the White-lined and Kimberley Honeyeaters

Eliot T. Miller A B D and Sarah K. Wagner C

A Harris World Ecology Center, Department of Biology, University of Missouri, St Louis, MO 63121, USA.
B Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia.
C Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
D Corresponding author. Email: eliotmiller@umsl.edu

Emu 114(2) 116-120 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MU13073
Submitted: 10 August 2013  Accepted: 4 October 2013   Published: 4 April 2014

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The genus Meliphaga includes five species found in Australia. Two of these, the White-lined (M. albilineata) and Kimberley (M. fordiana) Honeyeaters, are endemic to sandstone habitats in the Northern Territory and Western Australia respectively. Few details are known about their vocalisations. Although large molecular differences separate the taxa, they are morphologically similar, and not all have accepted their status as full species. To shed more light on their distinctness, we combined our recordings of song with all other known recorded vocalisations and analysed vocal differences between the species. We demonstrate large differences between the songs of the species. Specifically, the White-lined Honeyeater sings songs with longer and more tremulous notes, longer pauses between notes, and a higher minimum frequency. The evidence presented here supports the retention of the Kimberley Honeyeater as a distinct species.


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