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Recently recognized bird species in the Afrotropical Region — a critical review

Prigogine, A. 1985.
Recently recognized bird species in the Afrotropical Region — a critical review.
In: Schuchmann, K.L. ed. Proceedings of the International Symposium on African Vertebrates: Systematics, Phylogeny, and Evolutionary Ecology. pp. 91–114.
Selbstverlag, Bonn.


During the 2 last decades 20 new species have been described from the Afrotropical region (considered without the subregion of Madagascar). Moreover, in the same period, specific rank has been given to a great number of taxa considered previously as subspecies.

This appreciable increase of the number of species for Africa south of Sahara is due to the use of various methods: systematic collecting, field observation followed by collecting, a more critical study of the museum collections and a new approach to micro-taxonomic differences, but also the behavior of the birds, as their vocalizations and the study of interactions found at secondary contacts. Bioacoustic methods are especially useful to discover siblings. For parapatric taxa the demonstration of a hybridization belt, of a zone of overlap and hybridization or of only occasional hybridization is able to clear up the taxonomic status of the populations in contact. The most difficult situation remains for allopatric taxa where it is necessary to consider all available information to decide upon their taxonomic level. However, the decision taken by some authors will not be necessarily accepted by others, especially as sympatric siblings are certainly distinct species.

A critical review of the methods used and of the decisions taken is given and several interesting cases are discussed. All taxa proposed as species since 1960 (newly described species and subspecies now recognized as species) are enumerated in a list. The subspecies proposed for species rank have been classified in 5 categories following their acceptance by all (category I) or most specialists (category II). Only these 2 categories have been accepted as species. The total for the Afrotropical region amounts to 1640 species, at the end of 1983.


A symposium held at the Zoologisches Forschungsinstitut und Museum Alexander Koenig, Bonn, 15–18 May 1984.

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