Zosterops

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Some 75, see text.

Zosterops is a genus of birds containing the typical white-eyes. They are traditionally placed in the white-eye family Zosteropidae which may actually be a part of the Timaliidae however (Jønsson & Fjeldså 2006). The latest comprehensive review of Australian bird taxonomy by Christidis and Boles also places this genus in the Timaliidae.

This genus has the highest number of species among the white-eyes by far. They occur in the Afrotropic ecoregion, the Indomalaya zone, and the Australasia ecozone. Typical white-eyes can reach a length between 8 and 15 cm. Their most characteristic feature is the conspicuous white feather ring around the eyes, though some species lack it. The species in this group vary in the structural adaptations of the tongue.[1]

Systematics

A review of new DNA sequence data (Jønsson & Fjeldså 2006) suggests that the genus might not be monophyletic. Few species have been researched however, with the highest density of sampled taxa being from Micronesia. There, it appears, a more distinct eastern lineage and a western one closer to East Asian species occur. The relationships of the former to the Rukia white-eyes need investigation.

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