Taxonomy and the British List

6 November 2015

For many years the BOU has been seeking to establish a unified European-wide taxonomic model. However, despite the best efforts of our own taxonomic group, little progress has been made, with five separate national taxonomic groups (including our own) not being able to reach a consensus via the Association of European Records and Rarities Committees (AERC) since its establishment in 1991.

With no resolution in sight, BOU Council feels that the continued existence of national groups, each understandably feeling an obligation to retain control of the taxonomy used for their own national lists, is not in the best interests of ornithology and is a barrier preventing the establishment of a unified European taxonomy.

With a view to resolving this issue, the BOU has therefore disbanded its own Taxonomic Sub-committee and we will now take time to review the available global taxonomies with a view to adopting one system for all BOU activities, including The British List. This decision does not imply any criticism of the excellent work carried out by the BOU’s Taxonomic Sub-committee over the years, but is a reflection of the importance that BOU Council places on establishing a unified European avian taxonomy.

Prior to the above, the BOU’s Taxonomic Sub-committee published their own guidelines on assigning species rank relating to the British List followed by a series of reports with taxonomic recommendations. These recommendations are considered by the Records Committee (BOURC) and are formally applied to the List on adoption by BOURC in their own reports.

BOU Guidelines for assigning species rank / Ibis 144: 518-525 (July 2002)

BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee – 10th report
Ibis 157: 193–200 (January 2015)

BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee – 9th report
Ibis 155: 898-907 (October 2013)

BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee – 8th report
Ibis 154: 874-883 (October 2012)

BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee – 7th report
Ibis 153: 883-892 (October 2011)

BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee – 6th report
Ibis 152: 180-186 (January 2010)

BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee – 5th report
Ibis 150: 833-835 (October 2008)

BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee - 4th report
Ibis 149: 853-857 (October 2007)

BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee - 3rd report
Ibis 147: 821-826 (October 2005)

BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee - 2nd report
Ibis 146: 153-157 (January 2004)

BOURC Taxonomic Sub-committee - 1st report
Ibis 144: 707-710 (October 2002)