By Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
After a six-week expedition in 2013 and 2014, researchers have now described five new species and five new subspecies of birds in Indonesia. The ten-taxa haul, published today in the journal Science, marks the biggest discovery of new kinds of birds in over a century.
The team, led by ornithologist Frank Rheindt, focused on three small islands. Reviewing previous collection expeditions, Rheindt noticed that the eleven past trips were either brief or limited to the coast. None had ventured far inland or to high elevations, leaving behind an opportunity for discovery, so Rheindt focused his trip on those understudied areas. But rising wildfire risk and logging activity on the islands is already threatening the birds’ habitat.