Proposal (663) to South American Classification Committee


Change English name of Ramphastos ambiguus


Our current Note under Ramphastos ambiguus, which we call “Black-mandibled Toucan”, is as follows:


25. Called "Yellow-throated Toucan" by Haffer (1974), Short & Horne (2001), Short & Horne (2002b), and del Hoyo & Collar (2014).  Proposal badly needed.


The reason for the different English names is that the taxon swainsonii has been treated as a separate species by many authors, and under that taxonomic treatment (e.g. Meyer de Schauensee 1970), “Black-mandibled Toucan” is an appropriate name.  However, treatment of swainsonii as a subspecies of R. ambiguus, following Haffer (1974), renders “Black-mandibled” misleading because swainsonii has a reddish mandible.  When treated as separate species,  “Black-mandibled” referred nicely to the main difference between ambiguus (including abbreviatus) and swainsonii, which was known as “Chestnut-mandibled Toucan”.  See our Note 24 for taxonomic history.


The authors cited in Note 25 used “Yellow-throated” for broadly defined R. ambiguus – all three subspecies including swainsonii have yellow throats – and we should follow this.  This also leaves the “-mandibled” names as referring only to the two-species treatment.


Van Remsen, December 2014




Comments from Zimmer: YES. "Black-mandibled Toucan" ceased to make any sense once swainsoni was lumped.”