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New owl species identified on Lombok

13/02/2013 23:34:19

The Rinjani scops owl (Otus jolandae); a newly discovered owl endemic to the island of Lombok. Photo Credit: Philippe Verbelen

First bird recognised as endemic to Lombok

February 2013. A new species of owl has been discovered on the island of Lombok by researchers from Sweden. The Rinjani scops owl was recognised by its distinctive calls. Although first collected in 1896, it is only now recognised as a distinct species.

The avifauna of Indonesia is one of the richest in the world but the taxonomic status of many species remains poorly documented. The sole species of scops owl known from Lombok has long been assigned to the widespread Moluccan Scops Owl Otus magicus on the basis of superficial similarities in morphology.

Field work in 2003 has shown that the territorial song of the scops owls inhabiting the foothills of Gunung Rinjani differs dramatically from that of O. magicus and is more similar to those of Rufescent Scops Owl O. rufescens and Singapore Scops Owl O. cnephaeus.

Detailed comparisons of sound recordings and museum specimens with those of other scops owls in Wallacea and the Indo-Malayan region have confirmed the distinctiveness of the Lombok population.

Otus jolandae has been described as a new species, the Rinjani Scops Owl. It is locally common at elevations from 25-1350 m. and occurs within Gunung Rinjani National Park. The new species is known from seven specimens collected by Alfred Everett in 1896. Otus jolandae represents the first endemic bird species from Lombok.

The paper describing the newly recognised owl was written by G. Sangster,B. F. King, P. Verbelen, and C. R. Trainor CR. The paper, A New Owl Species of the Genus Otus (Aves: Strigidae) from Lombok, Indonesia, was published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE 8(2): e53712. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053712

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