Monday, November 9, 2009
Thayer's Gull- A species with no future
Few birds have garnered as much taxonomic debate as Thayer's Gull. Considered a subspecies of the Herring Gull by the AOU until 1973 it earned full species status based largely on the research of A.H. Macpherson and Neil Smith in the 1960's. Neil Smith's work which suggested Thayer's and Kumlien's Gulls mated assortatively on Baffin Island is now viewed with much scepticism. Repeated studies by Canadian ornithologist subsequently have strongly supported nonassortative breeding between these two taxon. Many experts including the BOU consider Thayer's and Kumlien's as subspecies of the Iceland Gull. Ron Pittaway a respected authority on this subject has published an excellent account of the history of this taxonomical debate which can be accessed at http://www.ofo.ca/reportsandarticles/thayer.php.