Australian researchers has identified a new, critically endangered species of ground parrot in Western Australia.The team, led by Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Dr. Stephen Murphy, used DNA from museum specimens up to 160 years old to reveal that populations of ground parrots in eastern and western Australia are highly distinct from each other and that the western populations should be recognized as a new species, Pezoporus flaviventris.
“The discovery has major conservation implications,” said Murphy in an Australian Wildlife Conservancy press release. “The Western ground parrot has declined rapidly in the last 20 years, there are now only about 110 birds surviving in the wild and most of these are confined to a single national park. It is now one of the world’s rarest birds.”
Dr. Jeremy Austin, Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide said, “Our findings demonstrate that museum collections, some going back more than 150 years, continue to be relevant and can provide critical information for understanding and conserving the world’s biodiversity into the future.”
Director of CSIRO’s Australian National Wildlife Collection, Dr Leo Joseph, said that, “Even after 200 years of study, we are still recognizing new species of birds in Australia. This finding highlights the need for further research on Australia’s unique, and sometimes cryptic, biodiversity.”
The team’s findings have been published this month in the international conservation research journal Conservation Genetics. Learn more information about the Australian Wildlife Conservancy at its website.