Proposal (605) to South American Classification Committee

 

Change linear sequence of species in Sporophila

 

Effect on SACC: This proposal would modify the linear sequence of species in Sporophila to reflect relationships shown in the latest research.

 

Background: See SACC proposal 604 for an overview.  Our current linear sequence is as follows.

 

Sporophila frontalis Buffy-fronted Seedeater
Sporophila falcirostris Temminck's Seedeater
Sporophila schistacea Slate-colored Seedeater
Sporophila plumbea Plumbeous Seedeater
Sporophila corvina Variable Seedeater
Sporophila intermedia Gray Seedeater
Sporophila americana Wing-barred Seedeater
Sporophila murallae Caqueta Seedeater
Sporophila collaris Rusty-collared Seedeater
Sporophila bouvronides Lesson's Seedeater
Sporophila lineola Lined Seedeater
Sporophila luctuosa Black-and-white Seedeater
Sporophila nigricollis Yellow-bellied Seedeater
Sporophila ardesiaca Dubois's Seedeater
Sporophila caerulescens Double-collared Seedeater
Sporophila albogularis White-throated Seedeater
Sporophila leucoptera White-bellied Seedeater
Sporophila peruviana Parrot-billed Seedeater
Sporophila simplex Drab Seedeater
Sporophila nigrorufa Black-and-tawny Seedeater
Sporophila bouvreuil Copper Seedeater
Sporophila pileata Pearly-bellied Seedeater
Sporophila minuta Ruddy-breasted Seedeater
Sporophila hypoxantha Tawny-bellied Seedeater
Sporophila ruficollis Dark-throated Seedeater
Sporophila palustris Marsh Seedeater
Sporophila castaneiventris Chestnut-bellied Seedeater
Sporophila hypochroma Rufous-rumped Seedeater
Sporophila cinnamomea Chestnut Seedeater
Sporophila melanogaster Black-bellied Seedeater
Sporophila telasco Chestnut-throated Seedeater
Oryzoborus funereus Thick-billed Seed-Finch
Oryzoborus angolensis Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch
Oryzoborus crassirostris Large-billed Seed-Finch
Oryzoborus maximiliani Great-billed Seed-Finch
Oryzoborus atrirostris Black-billed Seed-Finch
Dolospingus fringilloides White-naped Seedeater

New information:  See SACC proposal 604 for more details, but briefly, Mason and Burns (2013) sampled 33 out of the 39 species currently recognized by Clements et al. (2013) in their study of phylogenetic relationships within this group, and found that Sporophila is paraphyletic as currently defined (Figure 1).

 

 

Moreover, many of the strongly supported nodes in Mason and Burns (2013) represent novel relationships that are not reflected in the current linear sequence of this group.

 

A sequence modified to reflect these relationships, with the positions of six unsampled taxa (S. americana, S. ardesiaca, S. bouvronides, S. frontalis, S. murallae, and S. nigrorufa) inferred from other sources is as follows, using standard conventions, i.e., least-diverse (# taxa at same rank) branch first, sister taxa or allospecies in superspecies listed geographically, NW to SE; we have used tabs to signify nodes:

 

Sporophila bouvronides Lesson's Seedeater 1

Sporophila lineola Lined Seedeater

 

Sporophila leucoptera White-bellied Seedeater

Sporophila peruviana Parrot-billed Seedeater

Sporophila telasco Chestnut-throated Seedeater

                        Sporophila simplex Drab Seedeater

 

Sporophila castaneiventris Chestnut-bellied Seedeater

                        Sporophila minuta Ruddy-breasted Seedeater

Sporophila nigrorufa Black-and-tawny Seedeater 2
Sporophila bouvreuil Copper Seedeater
Sporophila pileata Pearly-bellied Seedeater
Sporophila hypoxantha Tawny-bellied Seedeater
Sporophila ruficollis Dark-throated Seedeater
Sporophila palustris Marsh Seedeater
Sporophila hypochroma Rufous-rumped Seedeater
Sporophila cinnamomea Chestnut Seedeater
Sporophila melanogaster Black-bellied Seedeater

Sporophila (Oryzoborus) funerea 3 Thick-billed Seed-Finch

Sporophila (Oryzoborus) angolensis Chestnut-bellied Seed-Finch

 

Sporophila (Oryzoborus) maximiliani Great-billed Seed-Finch

Sporophila (Oryzoborus) crassirostris Large-billed Seed-Finch

Sporophila (Oryzoborus) atrirostris Black-billed Seed-Finch

 

Sporophila corvina Variable Seedeater
Sporophila intermedia Gray Seedeater


Sporophila americana Wing-barred Seedeater 4
Sporophila murallae Caqueta Seedeater 4

Sporophila (Dolospingus) fringilloides White-naped Seedeater

Sporophila luctuosa Black-and-white Seedeater

Sporophila nigricollis Yellow-bellied Seedeater

Sporophila ardesiaca Dubois's Seedeater 5

Sporophila caerulescens Double-collared Seedeater

Sporophila schistacea Slate-colored Seedeater

Sporophila falcirostris Temminck's Seedeater

Sporophila frontalis Buffy-fronted Seedeater 6

Sporophila plumbea Plumbeous Seedeater

Sporophila collaris Rusty-collared Seedeater

Sporophila albogularis White-throated Seedeater

 

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1 Sporophila bouvronides is almost certainly the sister to S. lineola -- they were considered conspecific by Meyer de Schauensee (1970) but see Schwartz’s (1975).

2 Sporophila nigrorufa has traditionally been considered a member of this group, the “capuchinos,” and so its placement here seems appropriate pending further data.

3 Sporophila is feminine, whereas Oryzoborus is masculine, so with funereus variable, the ending changes to “–a”.  The species with “-is” endings are variable but would only change if Sporophila were neuter.

4 Sporophila americana and S. murallae have been considered conspecific with S. corvina; see Stiles (1996) and SACC proposal 287.

5 Sporophila ardesiaca is considered only a subspecies or variant of S. nigricollis and may not be a valid species; see our Note 117.

6 Sporophila frontalis is a bamboo specialist and has been traditionally placed adjacent to or near two other bamboo specialists, S. schistacea and S. falcirostris.

 

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Analysis & Recommendation: The above sequence reflects the new findings of Mason & Burns (2013), all of which make good sense from the ecology and distribution of these birds.  We recommend a “YES” (although if 604 does not pass, Oryzoborus and Dolospingus would be returned to their former positions.

 

 

Literature Cited:

 

Mason, N. A. and K. J. Burns. 2013. Molecular phylogenetics of the Neotropical seedeaters and seed-finches (Sporophila, Oryzoborus, Dolospingus). Ornitología Neotropical 24: 139–155.

Stiles, F. 1996. When black plus white equals gray: the nature of variation in the variable seedeater complex (Emberizinae: Sporophila). Ornitologia Neotropical 7: 75–107.

 

Nicholas A. Mason and Van Remsen, November 2013

 

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Comments from Stiles: “YES. Accepting the Mason & Burns topology, this change is reasonable and makes sense geographically and ecologically.  I might just make one minor comment: in my paper on the Sporophila corvina group, I did not lump americana into corvina but retained it as a separate species, which I still think it is. However, given the recent information on contact between americana and murallae plus the general scenario of bill plasticity in this group, I suspect that murallae (to which I assigned species status, largely on the basis of bill shape) might best be demoted to a subspecies of americana.”

 

Comments from Zimmer: “YES.  Assuming that Proposal #604 passes, then this sequence makes the most sense.  This may not be the place to make this point, but I really wish someone could obtain a tissue sample of Conothraupis mesoleuca (Cone-billed Tanager), because I would just about bet the farm that not only does this species not belong in the same genus with C. speculigera, but that it is actually sister to Dolospingus fringilloides.  Vocal evidence, bill morphology, plumage pattern and progression, ecology, etc. all point to mesoleuca being a Dolospingus, which now would mean that it is actually a Sporophila, and should be placed immediately following fringilloides in the sequence.  Unfortunately, mesoleuca is only recently rediscovered, is still considered to be Endangered, and it probably cannot be collected under Brazilian law.  That leaves only the holotype as a possible source of tissue.”

 

Comments from Pacheco: “YES, inn keeping with the previous proposal. The case of Cone-billed Tanager ("Neverthraupis" mesoleuca) in view of what Kevin said up here should be a proposal. Does the information gathered are not enough to bring it to Sporophila?  Would molecules say something so different that the morphology, behavior and vocalization are already showing?”

 

Comments from Robbins: “YES, following proposal # 604, adopting the Mason and Burns results, makes this a straightforward proposal.”