Island locker room

Article

December 3, 2021

The Melamprosops phaeosoma is an extinct species of finched bird that has been found on the Hawaiian island of Maui. He was a smaller, stocky, dark-colored singer with a distinctive black face mask. In many respects, such as the absence of a typical odor and the unique anatomy of the tongue, it differed markedly from other known wardrobes, representing an ancient species whose lineage split from other wardrobes before the island of Maui. The bird was not discovered until 1973 in a small area in the alpine forests on the northeast slopes of Haleakalā volcano; before the Polynesian colonization, its area of ​​expansion occupied a larger area and concentrated more in the drier lowlands. At the time of the discovery, the island's wardrobe population numbered about 200 birds, and even then it was threatened by, for example, the presence of non-native pigs disturbing the forest, the hunting of cats, rats and skunks or the possible loss of main food - snails, also due to non-native species. By 1985, the population had declined by 90%, and despite conservation measures, only three birds survived in the wild during 1997, living in separate areas. The last hope of captive breeding vanished in November 2004, when the last male, caught two months earlier, died at a conservation station in Olinda, Maui. The remaining two individuals disappeared from the wild between 2003 and 2004; then they were never seen again. Since 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has considered the species extinct.

Systematics

The island locker room was discovered in 1973. A small group of students from the University of Hawaii at the time studied the forests on the northeast slope of Haleakalā volcano on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The area was very little explored at this time, because previous expeditions were struggling with inaccessible terrain and the vagaries of the weather (torrential rains, fog and night temperatures falling almost to freezing). Researchers have managed to find a new type of wardrobe here, the existence of which has escaped all historical collectors. The site itself, where the bird was found, lay at an altitude of almost 2000 meters. Scientists Tonnie L. C. Casey and James D. Jacobi subsequently obtained permits to catch two individuals from the wild, according to which in 1974 the species was officially described. At the time of capture, both birds caught had not yet reached adulthood. It was not until 1997, when the species was on the verge of extinction and efforts were being made to map it, that researcher Paul Baker captured an adult male and took several photographs of him. It was the first time that an adult of the island's wardrobe could be observed up close. The family name is derived from Greek and in translation means "black forehead" or "black mask". The generic name phaeosoma also comes from Greek and means "brown body". In Hawaiian, the island's cloakroom is called poʻouli. The author of this designation is the Hawaiian lexicographer Mary Kawena Pukui, because information about the existence of this species was not shared even through the oral tradition of the Hawaiian population. It is a compound name that could be translated as "dark head", so it differs slightly in meaning from the professional scientific name. whether it belongs to this group at all. Only later research has shown that it is a phylogenetically unique species, whose lines differ from others

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