12 November 2008

Russian Naturalist Documents Original Records for Many Birds in North America

In considering the bird history for North America, there was originally little consideration given to sources of information published in a foreign language. With continued emphasis this focus had changed with the reading of resources published in Europe - particularly from the German republic - and in Asia.

One particular important source originated in Russia nearly two hundred years in the past.

In 1811, the renowned Petrus - or Peter if using the English spelling - Simon Pallas, M.D., had published a volume of the "Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica, Sistens Omnium Animalium in Extenso Imperio Rossico et Adjacentibus Maribus Observatorum Recensionem, Domicilia, Mores et Descriptiones Anatomen Atque Icones Plurimorum" which included numerous color illustrations. It was printed by the Academiae Scientiarum, at Petropoli.

Pallas, born in Berlin, was a professor of natural history at the Imperial Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg for many years, moving there in 1767 after receiving an invitation from Catherine, the Russian empress. He made extensive travels throughout portions of the country, preparing extensive and lucid writings printed in lengthy, illustrated tomes about the events and science of natural history. The names for several birds, subsequently recognize his pioneering efforts: a warbler, cormorant, fish-eagle, sandgrouse and rosefinch. Pallas was in contact with Thomas Pennant with letters from 1766-1781 still extant, and a compilation published.

Anecdotes of the professor were published in the Edinburgh Magazine, September 1786 issue. In 1791, Pallas was elected as a member of the American Philosophical Society.

The two volumes of this work, when it discusses observations from across the oceanic strait from eastern Asia, have many bird occurrence records for the North Pacific region which some decades after the publishing of this information, became part of the United States of America, and thus are essential information on its historic ornithology. Several species mentions are recognized as the first historic records for the continental ornithology, and designated for the original description of a species in the nomenclature for the continent.

The species mentioned in Volumen Primum, and, Tomus II, are verily available online for consideration and ready perusal. Accounts for more than 400 species are in the two volumes, listed in order by family, and include a scientific name, other nomenclature details which, since they are in the foreign language are not readily understood, synonyms of nomenclature, distribution details, and a detailed description.

Information is given on a number of species of interest. The following details provide the modern name, designated site and information from the species account. Although the original text often has the spelling Merk, this has been edited to Merck, to conform with the recognized spelling and for uniformity.

• Emperor Goose - Aleutis [Aleutian Islands] - Anser pictus; painted duck, Latham; Aleutis Kamghang; in insulis versus Americam extensis frequens
• Canada Goose - Aleutis - Anser canadensis; Aleutis Kamghang
• Tundra Swan - Aleutis - Cygnus Olor; whistling swan, Pennant; Aleutis, Koolkik
• Harlequin Duck - Aleutis - Anas histrionica; harlekin duck, Pennant; circa insulas versus Americam sparsa observabat frequentem p.m. D.D. Merck
• Common Eider - Aleutis - Anas Cutberti; Anas magna nigro-alba, Edward; Anas mollissima, Linn.; eiderduck, Pennant; America advena observatur
• Steller's Eider - Aleutis - Anas stelleri; western duck, Pennant; in insulis nostris versus Americam sitis, praesertium circa Unalaschka frequens, unde specimina retulit D.D. Merck
• Long-tailed Duck - Aleutis - Anas glacialis; Canard de Miclon, D'aubent; longtailed duck, Pennant; verosimillime trans Oceanum in Americam migrans
• Northern Fulmar - Aleutis - Procellaris glacialis; mallemucke, Martens; Procellaria cinerea, Brisson; Procellaria glacialis, Linn.; Aleuticas abundat
• Parkinson's Petrel - Aleutis - Procellaria aequinoctialis; Procellaria curilica, Pennant; Aleutis Ajudan; circa Aleuticas frequens, unde exempla adtulit D.D. Merck; Procellaria aequinoctialis Linn.
• European Storm-Petrel - Aleutis - Procellaria pelagica, little peterel, Zool. Britan.; Procellaria pelagica, Linn.; stormy petrel, Pennant; frequens inter insulas Americam
• Leach's Storm-Petrel - Aleutis - Procellaria orientalis; Procellaria fuscata, Pennant; circa Unalaschkam lecta retulit ex illo itinere D.D. Merck
• Northern Gannet - Aleutis - Sula Bassana; gannet, Pennant; in itinere vero Americano saepius in Pelago volantem inter Procellarias vidit
• Spectacled Cormorant * - Bering Island - Phalacrocorax perspicillatus; Beringii infausta insula, ubi naufragus vixit, observaverat
• Pelagic Cormorant * - Aleutis - Phalacrocorax pelagicus; Aleutis Agajok; Americana-rum insularum incola
• Red-faced Cormorant * - Aleutis - Phalacrocorax bicristatus; violet-shag, Latham; Americam sparsis et ispo Americae littore invenit
• Species not determined [a modern equivalent could not be found in a search of internet resources] - Bering Sea, Alaska - Phalacrocorax albidus; multoties in pilis marinis circa Beringii insulam vidi
• Bald Eagle - Aleutis - Aquila leucocephala; bald eagle, Lawson; Falco leucocephalus; Americanis ad Nootka Owatinne
• Steller's Sea-Eagle - Tauisk - Aquila pelagica; white eagle, Pennant; white-bellied eagle, Latham; Continentem Americes, praesertim in infami naufragio et morte Beringii insula
• American Oystercatcher - Kodiak Island, Alaska - Haematopus niger; maxime iis quae Americae vicinae sunt, praesertim Ins. Kadiak, frequens avis
• Eurasian Oystercatcher * - Aleutis - Haematopus hypoleuca; pied oystercatcher, Latham; in America
• American Woodcock - Aleutis - Scolopax Rusticola; woodcock, Pennant; Americam sparsis
• Whimbrel - Aleutis - Numenius phaeopus, Numenius minor, Brisson; dwarf curlew, Pennant; whimbrel, Latham; insulas et Americam
• Wood Sandpiper - Aleutis - Trynga Glareola; wood sandpiper, Latham; Americam sitis, a D.D. Merck
• Common Sandpiper - Kodiak Island, Alaska - Trynga leucoptera; Totanus striatus, Brisson; Trynga striata, Linn.; eandem ex insula Kadiak Americae vicina misit D.D. Merck
• Ruddy Turnstone - Aleutis - Charadrius cinclus; Arenaria; Trynga Interpres, Linn.; hebridal sandpiper, Pennant; Arenaria cinerea, Brisson; turnstone; insulis versus Americam sitis
• Red Knot - Aleutis - Limosa Barge; Gallinago cinerea; Scolopax Limosa, Linn.; Americam sitis
• Red-necked Stint - Aleutis - Trynga salina; Trynga ruficollis, Latham; insulis versus Americam sitis D.D. Merck
• Purple Sandpiper - Bering Sea, Alaska - Trynga arquatella, in Beringii insula a Stellero visa
• Red Phalarope - Aleutis - Phalaropus rufus; Trynga fulicipeda rubra, Edward; Phalaropus rufescens, Brisson; Trynga fulicaria, Linn.; red phalarope, Latham; Americam sitas
• Great Skua * - Aleutis - Catarractes skua; Catarractes skua, Brunnich; Arctik bird, Edward, skua gull, Pennant; quam Stellerus in itinere Americano
• Dovekie - Aleutis - Uria Alle; greenland dove, Albin; Alca Alle, Linn.; little auk, Latham
• Black Guillemot - Aleutis - Cepphus Carbo; Aleutis Tschuak; circa insula Aleiticam, praesertim in scopulis circa Unalaschka, unde numerosa specimina accepi
• Pigeon Guillemot * - Bering Sea, Alaska - Cepphus Columba; et Americam abundant et ubique fistulante voce exaudiuntur
• Long-billed Murrelet * - Bering Sea, Alaska - Cepphus Perdix; marbled guillemot, Latham; Americam inque Sinu Ochotensi
• Ancient Murrelet - Aleutis - Uria senicula; ancient auk, Pennant; Alca antiqua, Gmelin; abundant circa insulas Aleuticas
• Cassin's Auklet * - Aleutis - Uria Aleutica; specimina aliquot ex orientali Oceano retulit D.D. Merck
• Parakeet Auklet - Bering Sea, Alaska - Lunda psittacula; perroket auk, Pennant; Americam frequentantibus; Americam extansas non infrequens avis
• Crested Auklet - Aleutis - Uria cristatella; Alca cristatella, Pallas; crested auk, Pennant; frequens in insulis Aleuticis
• Rhinoceros Auklet * - Cape St. Elias - Alca monocerata; circa promontorium S. Eliae Americae
• Rhinoceros Auklet - Kodiak Island, Alaska - Alca monocerata; ad littora insulae Kadiak
• Tufted Puffin - Bering Sea, Alaska - Lunda cirrhata; tufted auk, Pennant; et Americam
• Belted Kingfisher - Aleutis - Alcedo Alcyon; littore occidentali borealis Americae adlata sunt
• Common Raven - Aleutis - Corvus Corax; Aleutis Kalngak; copiese in insulis versus American sitis
• Horned Lark - Aleutis - Alauda coelipeta; Alauda vulgaris; Alauda arvensis, Lin.; Americam sparsae sunt, observavit
• Varied Thrush - Kodiak Island, Alaska - Turdus auroreus; in insula Kadiak
• Hermit Thrush * - Kodiak Island, Alaska - Muscicapa guttata; in insulis America vicinis, praesertim Kadiak; recognized as the Unalaschka thrush
• Red-throated Pipit * - Aleutis - Motacilla Cervina; awatcha - warbler, Latham; i.e., Alauda sylvestris; Americam sitis frequens
• Common Redpoll - Kodiak Island, Alaska - Passer Linaria; Insula Kadiak, Americae contigua habeo varietatem sibiricis similem
• Yellow Warbler - Kodiak Island, Alaska - Motacilla rubiginosa; yellow poll, Latham; in insula Kadiak
• Wilson's Warbler - Kodiak Island, Alaska - Motacilla pileolata; ex insula Kadiak missa est ab amicis, Billings
• Snow Bunting - Aleutis - Emberiza nivalis; Emberiza nivalis, Lin.; snow bunting, Latham; in America boreali frequentissimae
• Golden-crowned Sparrow - Kodiak Island, Alaska - Emberiza coronata; blakcrowned bunting, Latham; in insula Kadiak
* Refers to the first reference to a species in North American nomenclature, or the first currently available historic record of the species in the region

The use by Pallas of known synonyms - from Pennant's Arctic Zoology, and Brisson - is certainly valuable in providing additional details needed to conform his references to modern equivalents of species identification. The reference to D.D. Merck, alludes to Carl Heinrich Merck, whom was on the Slava Rossii when a visit was made to the Aleut islands, with it in particular at Unalashka in June, 1790.

Further details on these records are given in the nominal, modern checklist of species for the continent prepared by the group concerned with tracking this information. This source is valuable for understanding some of the foreign language and how it pertains to the continent east of Asia.

An interesting aspect of the accomplished Pallas (1731-1811), are numerous other nomenclature designations. A number of other original descriptions for North America are based in a 1769 publication in Spic Zool. Details from this source further indicates how Russian-based studies have contributed substantially to the history of ornithology for North America.

1 comment:

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I love Birds from North America so that's a sorrow they're endangered, the more beautiful bird is the eagle. but they're so endangered, we have to preserve that life because they're beautiful.m10m

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