New Trip Reports: Patagonia (Chile & Argentina), Yorkshire (UK) and Uganda

Some more trip reports from Jason Woolgar

Chile & Argentina, 2013: 32 days & 27 species including Patagonian Weasel, Large Hairy Armadillo, Pichi and Killer Whales.

Yorkshire, 2013: 5 days & 18 species including Stoat and Water Voles.

Uganda, 2013: 22 days & 64 species including Pousargues’s Mongoose, Marsh Mongoose, Sitatunga, Patas Monkey, Southern Tree Hyrax and Bunyoro Rabbit.

Jon

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7 Comments on “New Trip Reports: Patagonia (Chile & Argentina), Yorkshire (UK) and Uganda”

  1. Richard Webb Says:

    More great reports but the Uganda report highlights again a problem that I have noted while reviewing Uganda reports on this site in preparation for a forthcoming trip, i.e. the question of which primates actually occur in Uganda. I have noted the red colobus in Uganda being referred to as a number of species some of which occur nowhere near Uganda and the mangabeys generally referred to as Grey-cheeked (albigeni) although one report correctly identifies them as two other species. According to volume 2 of Mammals of Africa the colobus should be Eastern Red Colobus Procolobus rufimitratus of the sub-species tephrosceles (Ashy or Uganda Red Colobus) with the subspecies ellioti (Semliki Red Colobus) occurring in extreme western Uganda. To make things more complicated the primate volume of the Handbook of the Mammals of the World gives both of these specific status. Both books seem to treat the mangabeys consistently. Grey-cheeked (albigena) occurs in west-central Africa e.g. Gabon but occurs nowhere near Uganda. The two species in Uganda are the widespread Uganda Grey-cheeked or Crested Mangabey (L. ugandae) and the restricted Johnston’s (Grey-cheeked) Mangabey (L. johnstoni) which occurs in Semliki Forest. To add fun to all this the ungulate taxonomy is even more confusing but there are quite a number of distinct forms in Uganda accepted in both HMW & MofA although in general the latter is more conservative than the former.

    Richard

  2. vdinets Says:

    Richard: I would recommend ignoring HMW volumes 2-3 on taxonomic issues.

  3. tembo10 Says:

    Hi Richard,

    I agree with Vladimir that the HMW books 2 and 3 have some extremely dubious taxonomy and are best ignored. We followed the MofA very closely when writing our book on the mammals of Tanzania, and I would consider that the definitive text for Africa. We only diverged from their taxonomic classification on a very few occasions (e.g. Natal duiker and some primate ssp) where we felt that this was merited from the scientific literature.

    Charles

  4. Richard Webb Says:

    Vladimir and Charles, thanks. That was my point, for African reports it makes sense to use MofA as that should be the definitive work going forward, at least for now. I did think it was however worth referencing the differences in HMW. Given that most Uganda reports incorrectly record the grey-cheeked mangabeys as albigena it remains pertinent to highlight that they should be ugandae or johnstoni both recognised by MofA as species. On the colobus front I’ve seen reports showing them as foai, ousteleti, pennanti, tephrosceles and rufimitratus most of which occur nowhere near Uganda. MofA uses rufimitratus which logically should be used going forward.

    I’m not sure I totally agree with the comments on HMW. I do agree that the ungulate volume seems to have gone overboard but even MofA acknowledges that some of the ungulate splits are probably justified although they have chosen not to follow them. Having read Primate Taxonomy I personally think there is probably more justification for more of the primate splits, again MofA acknowledges that they have been conservative on this.

    Which taxonomy to follow is very much a personal choice. Despite it’s failings HMW is inevitably going to be widely followed by many mammal listers whether we are agree with the taxonomy or not.

    Richard

    • vdinets Says:

      The tide of primate splitting is already turning. It’s been recently shown that there are just 2 spp. of woolly monkeys, and I am pretty sure other genera will follow sooner or later. Most recent splits have been either based on methods now known to be misleading (mtDNA, chromosomal number), or had no scientific justification at all. Have you seen Ian Tattersall’s paper on lemurs? He pretty much laid it all out.

      Tattersall, I. 2007. Madagascar’s Lemurs: Cryptic diversity or taxonomic inflation? Evolutionary Anthropology 16: 12-23.

  5. Richard Webb Says:

    I had read Tattersall and as a lumper rather than a splitter agree with many of his comments. I’m sure that some of the HMW splits may end up being reversed in time but I suspect it will be far fewer than some people think it will be and I suspect the MofA splits will stand the test of time. At the end of the day Tattersall’s paper reflects one person’s views and as such is no more or less legitimate than Groves’s views. People said the same in the birding world when splitting was taken to new extremes but to date relatively few of the splits have been reversed and the generally accepted world list continues to grow albeit at a slower speed.

  6. vdinets Says:

    There is an inherent pro-splitting bias in taxonomy that has to be compensated for. Right now the system for controlling it is inadequate, but sooner or later the mess that is avian taxonomy will have to be cleared. It has happened before; just takes a long time and a lot of effort. I once wrote a little essay on this, have a look: http://dinets.info/birdsys.htm

    As for Groves’ views, everything he writes is so full of unidirectional factual errors, I have no choice but to doubt his scientific integrity. Just one example: in his Bovidae chapter for HMW, he omitted huge chunks of klipspringer distribution to make his “species” look more isolated. I don’t think you can make such an error unintentionally.


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