Proposal (402) to South American Classification Committee
Remove hyphens from certain English names that do not represent monophyletic groups
As part of the ongoing debate generated by Gill & Wright (2006) on when to use hyphens in bird names, I asked Frank Gill to comb the SACC list for hyphenated group-names that included species for which there is no evidence of relationship.
Frank’s search yielded the following names on the SACC list with hyphens implying group relationship when none (presumably) exists:
(1) Ochthornis littoralis Drab Water-Tyrant and the Fluvicola Water-Tyrants (3 species)
(2) Urothraupis stolzmanni Black-backed Bush-Tanager; Cnemoscopus rubrirostris Gray-hooded Bush-Tanager; and the 7 species of Chlorospingus bush-tanagers.
Parkes’ (1978) the rationale for use of hyphens fits for Fluvicola and Chlorospingus, the hyphen here uniting presumed monophyletic groups. For example, Great Blue Heron and Little Blue Heron are not hyphenated because there is no proposed group relationship between them.
To remedy this grave problem, I propose removing the hyphens in the English names in Ochthornis littoralis, Urothraupis stolzmanni, and Cnemoscopus rubrirostris (and retaining them in Fluvicola and Chlorospingus).
GILL, F. B., AND M. WRIGHT. 2006. Birds of the World. Recommended English names. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton.
PARKES, K. C. 1978. Guide to forming and capitalizing compound names of birds in English names. Auk 95: 324-326.
Van (Hyphens Are My Life) Remsen, July 2009
Comments from Zimmer: “YES for removing the hyphens in the English names in Ochthornis littoralis, Urothraupis stolzmanni, and Cnemoscopus rubrirostris (and retaining them in Fluvicola and Chlorospingus, where they do unite members of a monophyletic group).”
Comments from Stotz: “YES. Huge conceptual breakthrough for Neotropical ornithology.”
Comments from Stiles: “YES. Here, I agree with Kevin – Bush-Tanager is fine for Chlorospingus and Water-Tyrant for Fluvicola, both of which represent monophyletic groups so far as I am aware; remove the hyphens for the others, which are “one-offs” in genera (often monotypic) unrelated to these.”
Comments from Jaramillo: “YES. Argument makes sense. Does this mean that going forward hyphenated English names will be automatically de-hyphenated if data arrives which confirms lack of monophyly of the hyphenated group name?”