Published on 13 March 2014 in Letters

Eaton et al. (2009) acknowledged that the listing for races of conservation concern in BoCC3 may have been `less robust than that for species’. They noted also that the BOU checklist of the birds of Britain, last revised in 2006 (Dudley et al. 2006), did not provide `a definitive starting point’ for their purposes, owing to differences of opinion on the validity of some races. In the last decade, I have raised this issue in letters or conversations with six members of the BOU Records Committee, BirdLife International and two national museums and also three old friends expert in taxonomy and conservation. My main point was that our duty of care for endemic taxa would never be exercised properly until there had been a reassessment of them using modern study disciplines. The professional responses varied, from expressions of little or no belief in the study value of subspecies to admissions of insufficient resources to judge species, let alone subspecies. They contrasted sharply with our elders’ enthusiasm for the task. Depressingly, I concluded that there was no chance of concerted establishment will to address the problem. Nonetheless, after the introduction of some subspecies into the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (see, for example, Eaton et al. 2007) and the listing of even more in BoCC3, the British conservation lobby clearly desires a new drive towards a definitive subject list. The forthcoming Status of Birds in Britain and Ireland (D. T. Parkin & A. G. Knox in prep.) will certainly help since, apart

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