A new species of Muscicapa flycatcher from Sulawesi, Indonesia

PLoS One. 2014 Nov 24;9(11):e112657. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112657. eCollection 2014.


The Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a globally important hotspot of avian endemism, has been relatively poorly studied ornithologically, to the extent that several new bird species from the region have been described to science only recently, and others have been observed and photographed, but never before collected or named to science. One of these is a new species of Muscicapa flycatcher that has been observed on several occasions since 1997. We collected two specimens in Central Sulawesi in 2012, and based on a combination of morphological, vocal and genetic characters, we describe the new species herein, more than 15 years after the first observations. The new species is superficially similar to the highly migratory, boreal-breeding Gray-streaked Flycatcher Muscicapa griseisticta, which winters in Sulawesi; however, the new species differs strongly from M. griseisticta in several morphological characters, song, and mtDNA. Based on mtDNA, the new species is only distantly related to M. griseisticta, instead being a member of the M. dauurica clade. The new species is evidently widely distributed in lowland and submontane forest throughout Sulawesi. This wide distribution coupled with the species' apparent tolerance of disturbed habitats suggests it is not currently threatened with extinction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / chemistry
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Geography
  • Indonesia
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Passeriformes / anatomy & histology*
  • Passeriformes / classification
  • Passeriformes / genetics*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Species Specificity
  • Vocalization, Animal


  • DNA, Mitochondrial

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KM924371
  • GENBANK/KM924372
  • GENBANK/KM924373
  • GENBANK/KM924374
  • GENBANK/KM924375
  • GENBANK/KM924376
  • GENBANK/KM924377
  • GENBANK/KM924378
  • GENBANK/KM924379
  • GENBANK/KM924380
  • GENBANK/KM924381
  • GENBANK/KM924382
  • GENBANK/KM924383
  • GENBANK/KM924384
  • GENBANK/KM924385

Grants and funding

This project was funded by the National Geographic Society (NGS CRE 8919-11; granted to PCR), the Loke Wan Tho Memorial Foundation (granted to DLY), and an EIPR scholarship at the University of Adelaide (granted to JBCH). Labwork for this project was co-funded by a National University of Singapore Faculty of Science start-up grant to FER (WBS R-154-000-570-133). We thank RISTEK for issuing the national research permits (for 2011, 0215/SIP/FRP/VI/2011; for 2012, 183/SIP/FRP/SM/VI/2012) and Lore Lindu National Park for permit letters. The Research Centre for Biology-LIPI supported DMP and DDP in their field research and provided facilities for laboratory analysis. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.