The Hainan Peacock-pheasant (Polyplectron katsumatae) is an endangered bird that belongs to the pheasant family Phasianidae. It is endemic to the island of Hainan, China and occurs nowhere else in the world. It is extremely rare.
The bird was long considered a subspecies of Grey Peacock-pheasant or Polyplectron bicalcaratum, despite the two species barely having even superficial similarities. The Hainan Peacock-pheasant is obviously smaller, and it possesses a short crest and ruff (Johnsgard 1986). Beebe (1922) noted various plumage differences between the two and considered them separate species. It is unclear why the subspecies status of P. katsumatae had remained for so long, when little to no evidence existed to validate subspecies status. It appears to be a case of a lack of published evidence.
Due to lack of detailed taxonomic studies, whether it was truly a subspecies (Polyplectron bicalcaratum katsumatae) or a full species remained unclear. Scientists used molecular markers, including the complete mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and intron G of the nuclear ovomucoid gene, to reevaluate the taxonomy of the Hainan Peacock-pheasant. The results showed phylogeographic monophyly and large genetic distance between the Hainan Peacock-pheasant and the grey Peacock-pheasant. Sequence differences corroborated the species-level distinction between these two Peacock-pheasants, which were inferred to have diverged about 1.4±0.3 Ma, near the time Hainan Island became separated from mainland China. BLI has also decided to recognize the split of Polyplectron katsumatae from Polyplectron bicalcaratum.
Due to a very low population density in tropical forest and declining population, it is now becoming severely endangered and should be regarded as the rarest species in the order Galliformes in China. Taking more conservation action immediately to protect this endangered island endemic is imperative.
1. ^ http://orientalbirdimages.org/new-obc-checklist-commentary.html
* Collar, N. (2009) Hainan Peacock-pheasant: another CR species for the IUCN Red List? G@llinformed 2: 14-19.
* Burns, Chang, J. Wang, B. Zhang, Y.Y. Liu, Y. Liang, W. Wang, J.C. Shi, H.T. Su, W.B. Zhang, Z.W. (2008). "Molecular Evidence for Species Status of the Endangered Hainan Peacock Pheasant". ZOOLOGICAL SCIENCE 25: 30–35. http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.2108/zsj.25.30.
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License