AOU Committee on Classification and Nomenclature (North & Middle America)

Comments on Proposals 2016-C

2016-C-1: Change the English name of Alauda arvensis to Eurasian Skylark
2016-C-2: Recognize Lilian's Meadowlark Sturnella lilianae as a separate species from S. magna
2016-C-3: Change the English name of Euplectes franciscanus to Northern Red Bishop
2016-C-4: Transfer Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis to Antigone
2016-C-5: Add Rufous-necked Wood-Rail Aramides axillaris to the U.S. list
2016-C-6a: Revise our higher-level linear sequence: Move Strigiformes to precede Trogoniformes
2016-C-6b: Revise our higher-level linear sequence: Move Accipitriformes to precede Strigiformes
2016-C-6c: Revise our higher-level linear sequence: Move Gaviiformes to precede Procellariiformes
2016-C-6d: Revise our higher-level linear sequence: Move Eurypygiformes and Phaethontiformes to precede Gaviiformes
2016-C-6e: Revise our higher-level linear sequence: Reverse the linear sequence of Podicipediformes and Phoenicopteriformes
2016-C-6f: Revise our higher-level linear sequence: Move Pterocliformes and Columbiformes to follow Podicipediformes
2016-C-6g: Revise our higher-level linear sequence: Move Cuculiformes, Caprimulgiformes, and Apodiformes to follow Columbiformes
2016-C-6h: Revise our higher-level linear sequence: Move Charadriiformes and Gruiformes to precede Eurypygiformes
2016-C-7: Transfer Neocrex to Mustelirallus (SACC # 650)
2016-C-8a: Split Ardenna from Puffinus (SACC # 647)
2016-C-8b: Revise the linear sequence of species of Ardenna
2016-C-9: Separate Cathartiformes from Accipitriformes
2016-C-10: Recognize Colibri cyanotus as a separate species from C. thalassinus
2016-C-11: Change the English name "Brush-Finch" To "Brushfinch" (SACC # 653)
2016-C-12: Change the English name of Ramphastos ambiguus (SACC # 663)
2016-C-13: Split Plain Wren Cantorchilus modestus into three species
2016-C-14: Recognize the genus Cercomacroides (Thamnophilidae) (SACC # 638)
2016-C-15: Split Oceanodroma cheimomnestes and O. socorroensis from Leach's Storm-Petrel O. leucorhoa

2016-C-1
Change the English name of Alauda arvensis to Eurasian Skylark

YES - 4 without comment.

YES. Definitely overdue.

YES. Our current name cries out for this change.

YES. This is much more consistent with our naming conventions than the Britishism of Sky Lark.

YES. Thanks to Marshall for tackling this one and for providing the convincing rationale that we need to change this name.

YES. This proposal provides good reasons for changing the English name to Eurasian Skylark, especially for conformity given that the species occurs mainly outside of the NACC area.

YES. I was not even aware that we used "Sky Lark," which is  not only outdated and not  in concordance with any other lists, but is, as the proposal states, is not consistent with other species in the genus Alauda

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2016-C-2
Recognize Lilian's Meadowlark Sturnella lilianae as a separate species from S. magna

YES - 1 without comment.

YES. It's hard for me to imagine that there could be this much genetic divergence among the three taxa in the face of any significant gene flow/hybridization.

YES but only by the very barest of margins. This one could go either way depending on exactly which results (or unknowns) one wants to focus upon…

NO. Maybe eventually, but certainly before doing this, I think we need to understand the situation with the Neotropical forms of magna much better.

NO (option 1, maintain status quo). I don't think the evidence presented in the proposal is compelling enough to split lilianae from magna at this time. In particular, taxon sampling is incomplete for the genetic data and includes non-breeding birds, the vocal and morphological differences are subtle, and most importantly, the putative contact zones have not been studied in detail.

NO. Thanks again to Marshall for assembling all this information in a readable package. My interpretation of the information is that the songs and perhaps calls differ subtly, but until playback experiments are performed to show that these differences would likely be barriers to gene flow, I think the bulk of the data favors continued ranking as subspecies.  Also worrisome is that the various tropical subspecies included under S. magna, which extend all the way to Brazil, have yet to assessed vocally.

NO. I would like a comprehensive approach to meadowlarks, and I worry that I just can’t hear any vocal difference between lilianae and the magna group (includes at least nominate magna, argutula and hoopesi). As a matter of interest, when one drives west across Texas on I 10 or neighboring roads, it’s magna on the moist east side, S. neglecta on the drier west side and then lilianae in the Trans Pecos. Basically there is a buffer of S. neglectabetween any of the magna group and lilianae. More over with just largely genetic reasons for the split, I think something is missed. It is acknowledged that the birds from Cuba (hippocrepsis) is distinct, but fits within the magnaclade, yet the song (and I think calls) is totally distinctive. The song quality is more like Western, though it is rather short. The plumage is more like Western in terms of no central black areas on the tertials and tail feathers, and with yellow going up into the lower auricular. And the Cubans say there is another population from a range in eastern Cuba that lives largely in forested areas (clearings) and has a different song. They haven’t yet published on this. Bottom line is that I’m uneasy about incremental splitting (much like the situation in Red Crossbills, e.g. the South Hills Crossbill). If anything gets split, let’s start with Cuba which at least sound totally different (one song on Xeno-canto).

NO. The lack of studies about what is going on in zones of possible parapatry makes it impossible to assess reproductive isolation between lilianae and magna. I do not think that comparing this to the magna/neglecta is apt, because magna and lilianae are similar in vocalizations, whereas magna and neglecta are not. I don’t think we can use genetic distance to gauge hybrid sterility/infertility.  

NO, certainly not while it is unclear as to which taxa should be included. In addition, being nearly as genetically and morphologically distinct as neglecta and magna does not mean that they would behave as biological species. This remains to be established and indeed seems unlikely, given their similar vocalizations.

NO (option 1). The systematics studies are intriguing, and lilianae may be a full species, but to me this is a populational question with inadequate data. The crux is here: "Although data are not available on hybrid pairings between the lilianae group and the magna group, the similar divergence times suggest that if the magna groups and neglecta groups are granted species status, the lilianae group should also be split." Timing is immaterial; what happens in contact is. Given the presence of hybridization between neglecta and magna, it is likely to occur between magna and lilianae as well (though given morphological distinctiveness, probably not much). What is more important is that if the vocal differences are less than those between n-m, then interbreeding on contact is more likely. Thanks, however, for such a detailed proposal.

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2016-C-3
Change the English name of Euplectes franciscanus to Northern Red Bishop

YES - 6 without comment.

YES. This proposal provides good reasons for changing the English name to Northern Red Bishop, especially for conformity given that the species occurs mainly and natively outside of the NACC area. Also, Northern Red Bishop is a more descriptive name given the color and distribution of this species when compared to the Southern Red Bishop.

YES. Would align the NACC with the most popular usage world-wide.

YES. The case is excellent for a name that applies to the species' in its natural range.

YES. Thanks again to Marshall for tackling this one and for providing the convincing rationale that we need to change this name.

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2016-C-4
Transfer Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis to Antigone

YES - 4 without comment.

YES. The recommended treatment seems like the best option for now given the available data.

YES. If we used occasional hybridization as a generic criterion, we’d have a lot fewer duck genera. Better to base genera on divergence times.

YES. Genetic data require that we make a change, and this is the one best supported by the data.

YES. I would like to see non-mtDNA genes included, but the strong support for the clade united canadensis with Antigone and Bugeranus will unlikely be changed by more data. Given the rather morphological similarity within Antigone, Bugeranus, and Grus, it may seem preferable to lump the two former in Grus, but the age of these splits argues against that.    

YES. This seems like the most sensible change given the data.

NO. Sorry, but the two species sound alike to my ears and they have hybridized multiple times in the wild. Perhaps convergence, but this one is not obvious to me. I’d prefer to await additional confirming genetic studies.

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2016-C-5
Add Rufous-necked Wood-Rail Aramides axillaris to the U.S. list

YES - 5 without comment.

YES. We should accept this record for conformance with the New Mexico Committee and the ABA CLC.

YES. Bosque del Apache NWR is a large area and is one of the best birded areas along the Rio Grande in New Mexico. I’m not surprised that lots of rarities are found here, and the "wild" theory is much more plausible than any other assisted passage scenario.

YES. Although this is by and large a scarce species, it does seem to move between breeding and nonbreeding sites, and rallids have an amazing tendency to become vagrants. Therefore a Rufous-necked Wood-Rail in New Mexico is not that outlandish. Plus it is probably not kept in collections at all.

YES. Seems highly unlikely to be anything other than a wild vagrant.

YES. A highly controversial case, but I think the burden of proof falls on the escapee hypothesis. The New Mexico bird records committee accumulated a large file of information concerning this record, including status in captivity and evidence of movements of the species. There are strong opinions and forceful arguments on both sides. The ABA committee, which is conservative on cases of origin, assessed the evidence in favor of a natural vagrant. Although rails are champion long-distance dispersers, Aramides do not have such a track record. Yet the fragmented distribution of A. axillaris, including presence on Pacific as well as Caribbean coasts, without any sign of phenotypic differentiation suggests to me that dispersal is part of this species' biology. In fact, tantalizing anecdotal information hints that the species is an elevational migrant in Belize and perhaps elsewhere (e.g., Lee Jones letter to New Mexico records committee). Although the focus has been on whether the record represents a natural vagrant, I think it is also productive to think of the odds of this being an escaped cage-bird. The species by all accounts is extremely rare in captivity, so what are the odds of what would be perhaps the first-ever detected escape being at a remote spot in New Mexico (vs. near an area with aviculturalists)?

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Revise our higher-level linear sequences as follows:
2016-C-6a: Move Strigiformes to precede Trogoniformes
2016-C-6b: Move Accipitriformes to precede Strigiformes
2016-C-6c: Move Gaviiformes to precede Procellariiformes
2016-C-6d: Move Eurypygiformes and Phaethontiformes to precede Gaviiformes
2016-C-6e: Reverse the linear sequence of Podicipediformes and Phoenicopteriformes
2016-C-6f: Move Pterocliformes and Columbiformes to follow Podicipediformes
2016-C-6g: Move Cuculiformes, Caprimulgiformes, and Apodiformes to follow Columbiformes
2016-C-6h: Move Charadriiformes and Gruiformes to precede Eurypygiformes

YES - 3 without comment.

YES. These changes reflects the best available data on phylogenetic relationships.

YES. Whew. Nice work on a complex proposal.

YES. I was more uneasy about the discussion of core passerines and the location of accentor and pipits/wagtails but go with the entire motion.

YES. The multiple independent data sets that support these groupings indicate that it’s time to start rearranging the sequence of orders to reflect these findings. Of course future findings may cause some additional changes, but this is a good start. Keep in mind that out current sequence is misleading with respect to all recent phylogenetic data. Thanks to Terry for sorting this all out. In Dickinson & Remsen (2013) we took steps in this direction and would have gone farther if we had had the most recent papers to work with.

YES. We hashed this over at the AOU meeting in Oklahoma. The current sequence no longer has any basis other than stability. The new sequence does put most water birds together. Although there will be loud howls of protest, we are working toward a stable sequence, and it seems that most of these moves will be uncontroversial after a decade or two.  

YES. As we discussed in Oklahoma, something should be done. As others have noted, this will probably have to be revised, at least in part, at a later date when more is known, but probably reflects phylogeny much more closely than what we have now.

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2016-C-7
Transfer Neocrex to Mustelirallus

YES - 3 without comment.

YES. I could go either way on this, but vote for merging Neocrex to Mustelirallus for the sake of conformity with the SACC.

YES. The genetic data warrant the generic change and Neocrex does not have priority.

YES, reluctantly. I would rather have reserved albicollis for a monotypic Mustelirallus, but given that the SACC endorsed adding the two Neocrex to Mustelirallus (weasel-rails?) I think it would be best to align with their decision.

NO to transfer of Neocrex to Mustelirallus, but YES to resurrection of Mustelirallus for albicollis. I would keep the genera separate for reasons of taxonomic stability.  

NO. The evidence for them being congeneric seems less than compelling.

NO. I think we are currently better served leaving these two genera separate. They really do not have morphological or behavioral characters that are informative at the generic level that unite them, and the distinctive antiphonal duetting of  M. albicollis really sets that apart from what we know of Neocrex (which admittedly isn’t much). The issue of Zapata Rail (Cyanolimnas) also is something that I think argues against this lump. It seems reasonable that it is part of this group, but we don’t really have any data to demonstrate that, so we may well be creating an artificial grouping by uniting these two genera while excluding Cyanolimnas, when there is no compelling reason to do so.

NO – following other's reasoning.

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2016-C-8a
Split Ardenna from Puffinus

YES- 6 without comment.

YES. I support this change because it reflects the best available data and conforms to other treatments.

YES. Pleased to see that the genus has morphological attributes recognized by Oberholser as warranting generic status.

YES. The evidence from three different studies (though all using just a single mtDNA gene) supports their allocation into different genera. While it is possible that further phylogenies will differ in detail, this distinction has been recognized a long time based on morphology as well and seems solid.

NO. The current taxonomy with Puffinus (sl) and Calonectris may end up being correct when the some more markers are used, so I think why bother making the change. I think we should wait for a clearer signal that Puffinus is polyphyletic.   

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2016-C-8b
Revise the linear sequence of species of Ardenna

YES - 10 without comment.

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2016-C-9
Separate Cathartiformes from Accipitriformes

YES - 5 without comment.

YES. This treatment is based on a more objective, standardized criterion for assigning ordinal rank.

YES. I agree that the age of this split is at the ordinal level. And it will give some substance to why me have misfired when we considered them storks.

YES. This establishes divergence time as a solid criterion for delimitation of avian orders.

YES. This brings in some needed consistency in what an order is.

YES. I have a certain amount of hesitation about this. I like the fact that placing Cathartidae in Accipitriformes makes clear that relationship, given that Cathartidae has been moved around over the last couple of decades. I am less concerned than some others about the timing of splits of orders, but I recognize that continuing to place Catharidae in Acciptriformes is greatly inconsistent the others orders. It also underemphasizes the evolutionary distinctiveness of New World Vultures versus Old World Vultures relative to hawks.

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2016-C-10
Recognize Colibri cyanotus as a separate species from C. thalassinus

YES - 4 without comment.

YES. While I would like to see genetic and vocal data, the phenotypic patterns along with the lack of rationale for lumping by Peters (1945) prompts me to vote for this treatment for now.

YES. Arguments presented make sense and the split makes sense.

YES. This seems to be one of those cases where a dubious Peters change simply hasn’t been seriously questioned until recently. I'd prefer to go with Ridgway species in such cases. I agree with using English names that have already been used, where these are not inappropriate, thus "Mexican" and "Lesser."

YES, with some hesitation. A molecular phylogeny of this group would be very nice before making this decision, but the status quo seems devoid of any logic, whereas the proposed treatment at least makes some sense. Maybe someone can coin a better name than "Lesser Violetear." 

NO, but weakly so. I’d like to see more data. Otherwise we could just get into a pattern of saying we think Peters et al. were wrong in their interpretation and reverse a heck of a lot of taxa based on our opinions and a rather casual examination of evidence (out-Petersing Peters et al.). While almost certainly correct, this treatment falls short of what I’d like to see, a quantitative evaluation of divergence relative to known species limits in the genus. Plumage would be fine, voice would add to it, genetics would too but would not be necessary in my mind.

NO. I would err on the side of conservatism about this change pending additional data and complete geographic sampling, even though I suspect that those additional data would support this outcome.

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2016-C-11
Change the English name "Brush-Finch" To "Brushfinch"

YES - 7 without comment.

YES. Then we don’t have to deal with whether Atlapetes etc. are real "finches" and thus the F need be capitalized.

YES. Uncontroversial.

NO - 1 without comment.

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2016-C-12
Change the English name of Ramphastos ambiguus

YES - 7 without comment.

YES. I agree that Black-mandibled is inappropriate.

YES. I can attest to the bafflement of guides in Costa Rica who have to call their bird the Black-mandibled Toucan, when it is nothing of the sort.

YES. Not totally thrilled with this name, but means that we are using a distinctive new name for the lumped ambiguus + swainsoni instead of maintaining a name previously used for one of the subunits. Also means we aren’t continuing to use an inaccurate name for the larger entity.

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2016-C-13
Split Plain Wren Cantorchilus modestus into three species

YES - 4 without comment.

YES. This is a nice study that supports the proposed split based on multiple lines of evidence and apparently limited limited gene flow in areas of contact.

YES. Well-substantiated.

YES. While I don’t like such reliance on single-locus species limits determinations, the authors (in the paper) deal effectively with the gene flow issue and I agree with their evidence and reasoning that it is quite limited.

YES. Splitting zeledoni from modestus seems straightforward, and many authorities have already done this. The narrow zone of introgression, even with some hybridization, indicates that these populations are reproductively isolated. Splitting elutus from modestus is less convincing, even though they are even more distant genetically than zeledoni/modestus. What is happening in the area of potential parapatry is largely unknown. The vocalizations of zeledoni (Mann, in NW Coast Rica) and elutus (Farabaugh, in central Panama) were studied quite far from this area. The genetic marker used (mtDNA) is poor for assessing introgression. However, the match between morphometrics and the genetic break, and the important differences in song and its function in duetting, argue for species status. It would be good to coin a new English name for modestus (ss) as well.

YES. The genetic data are not convincing on their own, but combined with the evidence for sharp discordances in mtDNA and morphology in the zones of contact, this is a stronger case. Only possible because the geographic sampling is particularly robust.

YES. This is an excellent example of the importance of sampling the contact zones. If only we had data like this for all similar cases – great work Jacob Saucier. Despite parapatry, these three taxa maintain strong genetic differences (7.6% and 6.7%), which would not be possible if there were free gene flow, as is also indicated by the lack of evidence for a hybrid swarm at contact.

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2016-C-14
Recognize the genus Cercomacroides (Thamnophilidae)

YES - 5 without comment.

YES. The molecular data support this change.

YES. This difference has been known for decades, and it is overdo to assign these to different genera.

YES. Solid genetic data indicate that Cercomacra is not monophyletic, and so this change is required.

YES. Should be same as SACC.

YES. Clearly needed.

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2016-C-15
Split Oceanodroma cheimomnestes and O. socorroensis from Leach's Storm-Petrel O. leucorhoa

YES - 4 without comment.

YES. These birds (the white-rumped ones) are really distinctive on plumage and shape, as well as flight style. I think they were the culprits for all earlier reports of Band-rumped Storm-Petrels. They are probably best considered uncommon summer (post-breeding) visitors to offshore (well offshore) southern CA waters. Townsend's Storm-Petrel and Ainley's Storm-Petrel for the English names.

YES to both. From the morphological evidence socorroensis is not a continuation of the leucorhoa/chapmani cline, and it appears distinctive vocally from that cline as well.

YES. The suggested English names seem fine.

YES. I vote in favor of this with the caveat that species limits in this group are really tricky and, I suspect, more dynamic through evolutionary time than in nearly all other groups of birds.

YES (cheimomnestes)and YES, albeit with less conviction (socorroensis). The taxon cheimomnestes is syntopic with socorroensis without evidence for gene flow, so clearly at least two species are involved. It seems to me that Ainley favored species rank but hesitated because of Bourne’s treatment of Pterodroma mollis (for which there were apparently no vocal data at the time – any new information?). The tougher decision is whether to treat socorroensis as a separate species from O. leucorhoa. Ainley’s sonograms confirm what was evident to an experienced seabird biologist, namely that socorroensis differs from leucorhoa to a degree consistent with species rank.

YES on cheimomnestes and socorroensis.