Intraspecific phenotypic variability in the black-eared miner (Manorina melanotis); human-facilitated introgression and the consequences for an endangered taxon

Rohan H. Clarke, Ian R. Gordon, Michael F. Clarke

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Prior to this study the circumscription of the endangered black-eared miner (Manorina melanotis) and the common yellow-throated miner (Manorina flavigula) has been clouded by the existence of hybrid individuals. We examined the intra- and inter-specific phenotypic variation of the two taxa. All available museum specimens (n = 138) and a sample of live individuals (n = 83) were examined. Cluster analysis revealed a continuum of phenotypic traits now exists between the two taxa. However, further analysis revealed the black-eared miner and yellow-throated miner were separable on phenotypic characters prior to extensive modification of mallee habitat after 1950, suggesting the black-eared miner should be afforded full species status [contrary to Schodde and Mason, 1999. (Schodde, R., Mason, I.J., 1999. The Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines. CSIRO Wildlife and Ecology, Canberra]. Our study highlights the need to carefully examine, not only intraspecific phenoptyic variation within a taxon, but to also consider how such variation may be affected by hybridisation facilitated by human disturbance of habitat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservation
  • Hybrid
  • Manorina flavigula
  • Murray mallee
  • Yellow-throated miner

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