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Life Perseveres: New Bird Species Found on Remote Island

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Although thousands of species have been identified and finding new taxa like birds, is rare, a study published in the journal Science describes five new songbird species and five new subspecies found on a single small island near Sulawesi, Indonesia, during a six-week expedition. Scientists targeted the area because of its geological history and complexity, and the historical notes of other explorers.

Two factors that contributed to the description of the large number of species in a small geographic area included knowledge of geographical land connections that helped pinpoint isolated islands likely to harbor substantial endemism and accounts of historic collectors such as British naturalist Alfred Wallace. The findings suggest that human understanding of biogeographically complex regions remains incomplete.