The 2015 report of the Taxonomic Advisory Committee of the AERC (TAC) (Crochet et al. 2015) and the 11th report of the Taxonomic Sub-Committee of the BOU Records Committee (TSC) (Sangster et al. 2016) have been published. Both reports should be consulted for the full exposition of the TAC's and TSC's decisions. The following recommendations included in the reports are applicable to the Irish List and have been adopted by the IRBC.

  • A review of the evidence for maintaining the subspecific status of borealis (aka Northern Eider), faeroeensis and mollissima forms of Eider showed they are essentially clinal in nature. Consequently Western Palearctic populations should be treated as a single subspecies, mollissima and Northern Eider Somateria mollissima borealis is removed from the Irish List.
  • Studies show significant genetic differences between the cyaneus and hudsonius forms of Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus, to the extent that hudsonius is probably more closely related to Cinereous Harrier C. cinereus than to nominate Hen Harrier. Hen Harrier is therefore best treated as two full species, i.e. Hen Harrier C.cyaneus and Northern Harrier C.hudsonius. Consequently Hen Harrier becomes monotypic on the Irish List and Northern Harrier is added as a full monotypic species to the Irish List after Hen Harrier.
  • Molecular studies based on DNA sequences indicate that the crake genus Porzana is polyphyletic, consisting of at least four groups. Both Little P.parva and Baillon’s Crakes P.pusilla are shown to be more closely related to non-Porzana crakes and are moved to the genus Zapornia. Spotted Crake and Sora are unaffected and remain in Porzana.
  • Recent DNA studies have indicated that the genus Charadrius is not monophyletic and that some species traditionally included are more closely related to Lapwings et al. than to some other Charadrius. Based on current evidence it is recommended to move these to the genus Anarhynchus and amend the list order as follows:
    • Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
    • Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria
    • American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica
    • Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
    • Dotterel Charadrius morinellus
    • Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
    • Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
    • Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
    • Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
    • Sociable Plover Vanellus gregarius
    • Lapwing Vanellus vanellus
    • Lesser Sand Plover Anarhynchus mongolus (moved from Charadrius)
    • Kentish Plover Anarhynchus alexandrinus (moved from Charadrius)
  • The 4th report of the TSC (Sangster et al. 2007) recommended a, 'recognition of an intermediate taxonomy that adopts Chroicocephalus for the clade which includes Slender-billed Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull and Black-headed Gull and adopts Hydrocoloeus for Little Gull, but does not change the generic status of other gull species'. This recommendation was adopted by the IRBC stating at the time that 'Some recent studies have indicated that the genus Larus as currently defined is not monophyletic and the generic limits of gulls requires revision. At present there is some disagreement on the extent of revision required. For the purpose of the national list the TSC recommends recognition of an intermediate taxonomy'. More studies on gull taxonomy have been undertaken since then and further data has come to light (Sternkopf 2010 & Liebers-Helbig et al. 2010), which has further amended the list order. While maintaining Chroicocephalus for Bonaparte's and Black-headed Gulls, the revised list sequence of gulls on the Irish List becomes:
    • Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus
    • Ross’s Gull Rhodostethia rosea
    • Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnea
    • Sabine’s Gull Xema sabini
    • Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla
    • Bonaparte’s Gull Chroicocephalus philadelphia
    • Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
    • Laughing Gull Larus atricilla
    • Franklin’s Gull Larus pipixcan
    • Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus
    • Common Gull Larus canus
    • Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
    • Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
    • Herring Gull Larus argentatus
    • Caspian Gull Larus cachinnans
    • Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
    • American Herring Gull Larus smithsonianus
    • Slaty-backed Gull Larus schistisagus
    • Thayer’s Gull Larus thayeri
    • Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides
    • Glaucous Gull Larus hyperboreus
    • Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
  • Recent studies of the genetic limits of Sylvia warblers proposed that all, except Blackcap and Garden Warbler, should be moved to a new genus Curruca and the list order amended accordingly. The TSC consider that such a split would not be helpful and recommend the use of subgenera instead, however these subgenera need not to be indicated and the order of Sylvia on the Irish List becomes:
    • Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
    • Garden Warbler Sylvia borin
    • Barred Warbler Sylvia nisoria
    • Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
    • Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
    • Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans
    • Whitethroat Sylvia communis
    • Dartford Warbler Sylvia undata
  • Recent studies have clarified the relationships among Emberiza buntings, recommending five genera instead of one and the list order amended accordingly. The TSC consider that such a split would not be helpful and recommend the use of subgenera instead, however these subgenera need not be indicated and the order of Emberiza buntings on the Irish List becomes:
    • Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala
    • Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra
    • Ortolan Bunting Emberiza hortulana
    • Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
    • Yellowhammer Emberiza citronella
    • Pine Bunting Emberiza leucocephalos
    • Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
    • Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola
    • Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla
    • Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica

Additional recommendations in these reports have no relevance to the Irish List at present although they may become applicable in the future. A PDF version of the latest Irish List may be downloaded here.


Crochet P.-A., Barthel P.H., Bauer H.-G., van den Berg A.B., Bezzel E., Collinson J.M., Dubois P.J., Fromholtz J., Helbig A.J., Jiguet F., Jirle E., Knox A.G., Kirwan G., Lagerqvist M., Le Maréchal P., van Loon A.J., Päckert M., Parkin D.T., Pons J.-M., Raty L., Roselaar C.S., Sangster G., Steinheimer F.D., Svensson L., Tyrberg T., Votier S.C., Yésou P. 2015. AERC TAC's taxonomic recommendations: 2015 report. Available online at [accessed August 2015].

Liebers-Helbig, D., Sternkopf, V., Helbig, A.J. & de Knijff P. 2010. The Herring Gull complex (Larus argentatus - fuscuscachinnans) as a model group for recent holarctic vertebrate radiations. Found in: Glaubrecht, M. (ed.) pp. 351-371. Evolution in Action. Springer-Verlag, Berlin & Heidelberg.

Sangster, G., Collinson, J.M., Knox, A.G., Parkin, D.T. & Svensson, L. 2007. Taxonomic recommendations for British birds: Fourth report. Ibis 149: 853-857.

Sangster, G., Collinson, M., Crochet, P.-A., Kirwan, G.M., Knox, A.G., Parkin, D.T. & Votier, S.C. 2016. Taxonomic recommendations for Western Palearctic birds: 11th report. Ibis 158(1): 206-212.

Sternkopf, V. 2010. Molekulargenetische Untersuchung in der Gruppe der Möwen (Laridae) zur Erforschung der Verwandtschaftsbeziehungen und phylogeographischer Differenzierung. Unpublished PhD thesis. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Ernst-Moritz- Arndt-Universität Greifswald, Greifswald. 222 pp.

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