Recognize a new species of Grallaria

 

Proposal (479) to South American Classification Committee

 

 

[Note from Remsen: this proposal is divided into two parts.  Part A deals solely with the issue of whether the newly described taxon merits species rank.  Although based on the description of urraoensis, a YES vote does not require that urraoensis is the name, but only that the new taxon is a species to be added to the list, with either the name fenwickorum or urraoensis.  Part B. Deals with which of these two names is the one we adopt.  A YES vote favors the proposal’s recommendation, namely to use urraoensis, whereas a NO vote endorses fenwickorum.]

 

 

Part A. Recognize recently described Grallaria as a species/Reconocer la especie recientemente descrita Grallaria como especie

 

Effect on SACC: Esta propuesta agregará una nueva especie descrita a la lista de especies.

 

Background: Diego Carantón-Ayala y Katherine Certuche-Cubillos en Ornitología Colombiana 9 (2010): 56-70. http://www.ornitologiacolombiana.org/oc9/MS1004%20Caranton.pdf describen una nueva especie de Grallaria encontrada en el Páramo de Frontino, Cordillera Occidental de los Andes, Colombia. Esta nueva especie es comparada morfológica y vocalmente con Grallaria milleri de la Cordillera Central de los Andes, Colombia, con la cuál difiere significativamente.

 

New information:

 

Carantón-Ayala y Certuche-Cubillos (2010), describen como nueva especie de G. urraoensis. La localidad tipo es Páramo de Frontino, vereda El Chuscal, ca. 17 km norte del pueblo de Urrao, departmento de Antioquia, Colombia (2850 m; 6ľ26’N, 76ľ05’W). El holotipo es esta depositado en Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia (ICN-MHN).  Además se incluye un paratipo, así como las medidas de 3 adultos y un juvenil no colectados en la descripción.

 

El resumen del trabajo de Carantón-Ayala y Certuche-Cubillos (2010) expone los siguiente:

 

ABSTRACT:  We describe the Urrao Antpitta (Grallariidae: Grallaria urraoensis), a new species of suboscine passerine endemic to high Andean forests below Páramo de Frontino, in the northern sector of the Western Andes of Colombia. The new species is similar to the Brown-banded Antpitta (Grallaria milleri) from the Central Andes, but differs from it vocally and in its slightly larger size, lack of pectoral band, duller brown-olive coloration in the upperparts, uniform light gray underparts, and whitish lores. The new species occurs in the undergrowth of primary and secondary cloud forests dominated by Chusquea bamboo at elevations between 2500-3200 m at the type locality. We present notes on the ecology, distribution, behavior, reproductive biology, vocalizations, and conservation of the new species. The montane forests in the northern sector of the Western Andes to which the Urrao Antpitta is endemic are threatened by deforestation, fragmentation, and mining. These factors, in combination with the restricted geographic and ecological distribution of the new species, make it an important priority for conservation action”.

 

“RESUMEN: Describimos al Tororoi de Urrao (Grallariidae: Grallaria urraoensis), una nueva especie de passeriforme suboscino endémica de los bosques altoandinos del Páramo de Frontino, sector norte de la Cordillera Occidental de los Andes de Colombia. La nueva especie es similar al
Tororoi de Miller (Grallaria milleri) de la Cordillera Central, pero difiere de esta especie en sus vocalizaciones y por ser ligeramente más grande, sin banda pectoral, con coloración café-oliva más opaca por encima, gris claro uniforme en las partes inferiores y bridas blanquecinas. La
nueva especie se encuentra en el sotobosque de bosques nublados primarios y secundarios dominado por bambúes del género Chusquea entre elevaciones de 2500 a 3200 m en la localidad tipo. Presentamos anotaciones sobre la ecología, distribución, comportamiento,
reproducción, vocalizaciones y conservación de esta nueva especie. Los bosques de montaĖa del norte de la Cordillera Occidental donde se encuentra el Tororoi de Urrao están amenazados debido a deforestación, fragmentación y exploración minera. Estos factores, junto con la
distribución geográfica y ecológica restringida de la nueva especie, hacen altamente prioritarios esfuerzos para su conservación”.

 

Analysis and Recommendation:

 

Basados en características morfológicas y de plumaje, Carantón-Ayala y Certuche-Cubillos (2010) presentan la descripción de urraoensis (n = 5) de milleri (n = 9). Urraoensis se distingue de mlleri por una combinación de plumaje y morfologia:

 

“(1) plumage characters: the new species has a more olivaceous dorsum, a brownish olive throat (whitish in G. milleri), and lacks a brown pectoral band and contrasting whitish abdomen; (2) its heavier bill, greater body mass and probably longer wing and tail.”

 

Como ocurre muchas especies de sub-oscines donde las vocalizaciones sirven para diferenciar species las vocalizaciones de urraoensis y milleri difieren significativamente:

 

“The loudsong (Fig. 3a) is, on average, 0.9 s long (SD Ī 0.06 s, n=30), and is composed of three similarly shaped, high-pitched notes. The first and second notes are relatively brief (0.13 Ī 0.02 s and 0.14 Ī 0.02 s, respectively), whereas the third is somewhat longer (0.18 Ī 0.04 s); the interval between the first and second note is 0.30 Ī 0.03 s, and that between the second and third only 0.07 Ī 0.02 s. Pitch (i.e. dominant frequency) also increases as the song progresses: first note 2.93 Ī 0.11 kHz, second note 3.08 Ī 0.10 kHz, third note 3.27 Ī 0.10 kHz. The song of G. milleri (Fig. 3b) is similar but longer (1.19 Ī 0.16 s SD, n=20), and each of its individual notes is also longer (first 0.25Ī0.05 s, second 0.26Ī0.02 s, third 0.30Ī0.06 s) and differs in shape from those of G. urraoensis. The frequency range of each note, however, is similar to that in the song of G. urraoensis. The dominant frequency is: first note 2.65 Ī 0.12 kHz; second note 2.81 Ī 0.11 kHz and difference in the songs of the two species is duration of the pause between the second and third note; this pause is short and occasionally imperceptible in G. milleri.

 

“A second type of vocalization recorded from G. urraoensis is a short, loud call emitted in aggressive contexts (e.g. after song playbacks or after imitating its song), in response to loud noises, and during the nonbreeding season. This call is louder and higher-pitched than the song, and consists of a single wave-shaped note (~) that lasts for 0.31 Ī 0.03 s (n=11), beginning at 5.39 Ī 0.17 kHz, then descending to 4.94 Ī 0.15 kHz, and rising again to 5.19 Ī 0.21 kHz (n= 11). The call of G. milleri differs in being longer (0.45 Ī 0.09 s, n=21), U-shaped, and generally higher-pitched: it begins at 6.31 Ī 0.45 kHz, then descends to 5.09 Ī 0.23 kHz, and rises at the end to 5.40 Ī 0.18 kHz.”

 

Basado en la evidencias morfológicas, de plumaje y canto, así como la distribución restringida que presenta esta especie, propongo que se reconozca esta especie reciente mente descrita como una especie válida para Suramérica.

 

 

References:

Carantón-Ayala, D. y K. Certuche-Cubillos.  2010.  NEW SPECIES OF ANTPITTA (GRALLARIIDAE: GRALLARIA) FROM THE NORTHERN SECTOR OF THE WESTERN ANDES OF COLOMBIA.  Ornitología Colombiana 9: 56-70.

 

 

Luis Sandoval, March 2011

 

 

 

Comments from Cadena:  I vote YES to recognize this new species based on all the evidence presented in the paper by Carantón and Certuche summarized here and also based on the data included in a separate (earlier) publication, which gave a different name to this new species (G. fenwickorum) and which was not mentioned by Luis Sandoval in this proposal. I honestly do not see how we can vote on the taxonomic validity of this new taxon without considering which name we are going to give to it, provided the proposal passes. This point is crucial because the other description was published first, so if the committee adheres strictly to the ICZN, the originally proposed name has priority. Thus, we are sort of starting backwards (I realize this reflects that someone sent a proposal to recognize urraoensis and nobody, contrary to what some people have claimed, has sent a proposal to recognize fenwickorum). Because I have been deeply involved in the unfortunate situation surrounding the two descriptions of this bird, I will abstain from voting on proposals related to the name of this new taxon and do not intend to bias the committee's assessment of the issues beyond what I see from a strictly scientific standpoint. However, I would like to encourage other committee members to comment on the nomenclatural issue when they cast their votes on this first proposal and will make a few comments below.

 

“The situation has been described at length in several publications and documents available on the web (most of them are available here: http://birdingblogs.com/2011/Gunnar/one-bird-two-names-bitter-feud-among-colombian-ornithologists). Committee members can form their own opinions based on the information available. If one adheres strictly to the code's provisions regarding priority, then clearly G. fenwickorum has priority and should be the name for this antpitta. However, members of the committee will have to decide, on purely scientific grounds, whether the description of fenwickorum is acceptable under modern standards considering that no fully prepared type specimen was designated. I realize that judging other matters that may merit some discussion, such as the breach of ethics potentially involved in the publication of this new species, will be harder for committee members who are not familiar with all the facts, but I do encourage people to chip in regarding this topic if they feel it is important. Note, however, that ethics vary from person to person and the people who described the bird as G. fenwickorum maintain it was not them, but others (e.g. the discoverer) who behaved unethically.

 

“This is all to say that I feel this is a very important proposal for SACC; it is not only about recognizing a new species, but rather, you guys (as I said, I have to abstain) have to decide on really complicated matters.  I will eagerly watch from the sidelines and will accept whatever you decide. Good luck!”

 

Comments from Remsen: “YES.  As a reviewer of the original MS, I concur that the taxon is new and that it should be ranked at the species level.”

 

 

 

 

Part. B.  Chose a scientific name and English name for the new species (if Part A passes).

 

Effect on South American List: Determines the scientific and English names for a new Grallaria if the taxon is recognized as a new species.

 

Background:  Barrera et al. (2010) and Carantón-Ayala & Certuche-Cubillos (2010) described a new species of Grallaria from the Western Andes of Colombia.

 

The new species is most similar to Grallaria milleri and G. kaestneri but differs from both by having the underparts uniformly gray (G. milleri and G. kaestneri have brown breast and whitish throat). It also resembles G. milleri and G. kaestneri in its song, but differences in note frequency, duration, and shape distinguish the three species. There seem to be also morphometric differences, on average, between the new species and G. milleri, but sample size is small. Evidence for reproductive isolation, as is typical for allopatric taxa, is indirect. Barrera et al. cited Donegan (2008a), who argued that three independent differences in song (frequency, duration, and shape, in this case) indicate species status, as in the Isler-Whitney criteria for the Thamnophilidae.

 

Considerable controversy has surrounded the description of this species (see the editorials that accompanied the descriptions in the corresponding journals and Regalado 2011). Most aspects of the controversy, however, are not relevant to the scientific questions treated here. Other than the species status (see Part A), the issue that requires careful consideration by the SACC concerns which name to use for the new taxon, as Barrera et al. and Carantón & Certuche each proposed a different name for the new species.

 

 

Analysis:

 

 

The description by Barrera et al. was published on 18 May 2010, whereas the description by Carantón & Certuche was published on 24 June 2010.  The Carantón & Certuche article fulfills the requirements for making a new name available according to the Code of Zoological Nomenclature (hereafter 'the Code', available at http://www.nhm.ac.uk/hosted-sites/iczn/code/ but, all else being equal, the name proposed by Barrera et al. has priority (Article 23) over the name proposed by Carantón & Certuche. However, there are fundamental problems with the description by Barrera et al. pertaining to the designation and whereabouts of the type material, as explained below.

 

The Code requires "name-bearing types" (type specimens) to be 'fixed' (i.e. explicitly and unequivocally designated) when proposing new names (Article 16.4) and, by definition, a holotype is a single specimen (Article 73.1). The holotype designation by Barrera et al. is clumsy and difficult to interpret at first glance. On closer examination, besides imprecisions and typos (Article 74.1.4 does not exist), the holotype designation contains a fundamental ambiguity: instead of a single specimen, Barrera et al. indicated that the holotype is constituted by both a sample of feathers and a bird depicted in the cover of the journal (the feather samples were reportedly obtained from the bird in the photograph). Name-bearing types can be whole animals or parts of animals but in this case the type is both the whole animal and parts of it. This may not be a serious problem if all the parts of the holotype were archived together in a scientific collection. However, that was not the case, and the different parts were clearly treated as different specimens. Which one of these specimens is the holotype is unclear in the formal designation by Barrera et al. The remainder of the paper is ambiguous as well. Whereas some paragraphs suggest that the holotype is the sample of feathers, other paragraphs suggest that the holotype is the original bird. For example, there is an entire paragraph about why the sample of feathers constitutes an appropriate holotype but the "Description of the holotype" is entirely based upon the original bird, not the sample of feathers. This ambiguity, by itself, invalidates the description by Barrera et al. because they failed to designate a holotype unambiguously.

 

In addition to the problem of holotype designation, there are problems with the whereabouts of the type material. The justification for designating the sample of feathers as a part of the holotype was to comply with Article 16.4.2 of the Code (see also article 72.10), which states that type specimens should be deposited in a collection. Barrera et al stated that the feather samples were “deposited at the Museo de Historia Natural Jose Celestino Mutis, Facultad de Ciencias de la Universidad de Pamplona, tissue collection No.699”. They did not mention where Universidad de Pamplona is located, as required by the Code (Article 16.4.2). The collection is not in the well-known city of Pamplona, Spain, but in the city of Pamplona in the Department of Norte de Santander, in NE Colombia. Aside from this omission, the statement contains two non-trivial inaccuracies, as revealed by a recent public statement by Diego J. Lizcano, professor at Universidad de Pamplona, who received the feather samples (available at https://sites.google.com/site/giebupa/hot-news-1/comunicadoalacomunidadornitologicayalaopinionpublica): the alleged “tissue collection” does not exist and the number 699 does not correspond to a catalogue number in the museum. In addition, Lizcano indicated that ProAves never informed Universidad de Pamplona personnel that the samples were to constitute type material of a new taxon. Therefore, the feather samples were not even deposited properly in a scientific collection as is customary in modern ornithological work and recommended by the Code (Recommendations 16C and 72D).

 

However, even if the feather samples were deposited properly in a collection, nowhere does the Code say that depositing a part of the holotype is sufficient; Article 16.4.2 make the explicit requirement of depositing the holotype itself. It is difficult to maintain that preserving an insignificant portion of the holotype is sufficient. The insufficiency of the deposited feathers as representatives of the holotype is also clear in the remainder of the description, in which the detailed 'Description of the holotype' section and the reported measurements (Table 1) both refer to the whole bird, not to the sample of feathers. It is also clear that the deposited feathers by themselves are not sufficient as evidence for the existence of a new taxon.

 

The other ‘part’ of the holotype is the entire bird depicted in the photograph. It is clear from the rest of the description, and from the 'Description of the holotype' in particular, that the whole bird is the specimen on which the new name is based. This designated holotype, however, was not preserved and deposited in a collection as required by article 16.4.2 of the Code. Compare this situation with the customary procedures in modern ornithology, in which the holotype is not the original bird but the standard study skin made from it, so the entire holotype is typically deposited and preserved in a scientific collection.

 

Whether failure to deposit a proper type specimen invalidates a new name is somewhat ambiguous in the current wording of the Code (Polaszek et al. 2005, Dubois & Nemésio 2007). It could be argued that Article 16.4.2 only applies to descriptions in which types are extant specimens. Under this view, the Code is open to the possibility of descriptions based on indirect evidence in the absence any extant specimen. In such cases, no deposited specimens would be required. Specifically, this is the case with names based on illustrations, which are valid regardless of whether the specimen illustrated currently exist or not (articles 72.5.6 and 73.1.4). This exception validates many 19th century names that were based upon paintings of unknown individual birds. Some have argued that the same reasoning could be applied to new descriptions based on photographs only (Wakeham-Dawson & Morris 2002, Polaszek et al. 2005) despite the fact that the Code emphasizes in many articles and recommendations the crucial role that type specimens play in modern taxonomy (Articles 16.4.2, 72.10, Recommendation 16C, Dubois & Nemésio 2007, Nemésio 2008).

 

However, the Barrera et al. description is not based upon indirect evidence gathered through the study of a photograph but upon direct examination of the specimen designated as the holotype, from which photograph, measurements, and feather samples were taken. Therefore, it is clear that articles pertaining to indirect evidence do not apply in this case, and the requirement of 16.4.2 applies in its full extent. Barrera et al. failed to deposit the holotype in a scientific collection or even to declare an intention of such a deposition. Instead, they actually declared that they released the holotype back to nature (the liberation of the holotype is clearly described in the article and is also documented with photographs by the same authors (http://www.flickr.com/photos/proaves/with/4538980644/).

 

Therefore, I conclude that the description by Barrera et al. did not comply with two fundamental requirements for the availability of a name published after 1999: 1) unambiguous designation of name-bearing types (Article 16.4.1), and 2) deposition of type material in a research collection (16.4.2). The name ‘fenwickorum’ is thus not available for this new species of Grallaria.

 

 

Recommendation:

 

Because of the problems with the description by Barrera et al. and, in particular, the failure to comply with the requirements of the Code of Zoological Nomenclature, the name ‘fenwickorum’ is not available. This situation is not problematic because there is already another name available for this bird. Therefore, I recommend the committee to adopt the scientific name proposed by Carantón & Certuche for the new species: Grallaria urraoensis.

 

Regarding the English Name both Barrera et al. and Carantón & Certuche proposed English names based on the corresponding scientific names: Fenwick’s Antpitta and Urrao Antpitta. The former may not be appropriate given the invalidity of the name 'fenwickorum'. Urrao Antpitta has the advantage of being parallel to the scientific, which will facilitate communication between people that use English names and people that use Latin names, and also highlights the only known area of occurrence of the species, may promote additional local conservation efforts.

 

 

References:

 

BARRERA, L. F., A. BARTELS & FUNDACIÓN PROAVES DE COLOMBIA. 2010. A new species of Antpitta (family Grallariidae) from the Colibrí del Sol Bird Reserve, Colombia. Conservación Colombiana 13:8-24.

 

CARANTÓN-AYALA, D. & K. CERTUCHE-CUBILLOS 2010. A new species of antpitta (Grallariidae: Grallaria) from the northern sector of the Western Andes of Colombia. Ornitología Colombiana 9:56-70.

 

DONEGAN, T. M. 2008a. Geographical variation in Slate-crowned Antpitta Grallaricula nana, with descriptions of two subspecies, from Colombia and Venezuela. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 128(3): 150-178.

 

DONEGAN, T. M. 2008b. New species and subspecies descriptions do not and should not always require a dead type specimen. Zootaxa 1761:37–48.

 

DUBOIS, A. & A. NEMÉSIO. 2007. Does nomenclatural availability of nomina of new species or subspecies require the deposition of vouchers in collections? Zootaxa, 1409:1–22.

 

NEMÉSIO, A. 2009. Nomenclatural availability of nomina of new species should always require the deposition of preserved specimens in collections: a rebuttal to Donegan (2008). Zootaxa 2045:1–14.

 

POLASZEK, A., P. GRUBB, C. GROVES, C. L. EHARDT & T. M. BUTYNSKI. 2005. What constitutes a proper description: response. Science 309:2164–2166.

 

REGALADO, A. 2011. Feathers are flying over Colombian bird name flap. Science 331 (6021): 1123-1124.

 

WAKEHAM-DAWSON, A., S. MORRIS & P. TUBBS.  2002. Type specimens: dead or alive? Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 59(4): 282–286.

 

Santiago Claramunt, March 2011

 

===============================================================================

 

Comments from Stiles:  I abstain on the proposal itself, having been directly involved in the controversy.  However, I will still express my opinion for the benefit of the voters.  If they agree with my logic, it will perhaps persuade them to vote YES, if not (as has often happened), then they might vote NO.  One reason that I hope the proposal passes is that it will send a clear message to the ICZN that it is time to make a definitive, unambiguous ruling on just what constitutes an acceptable type specimen.

 

“One aspect of the controversy over the name of the new Grallaria that has received little attention so far is just what is the purpose of a type specimen in the first place.  Yes, the Code specifies that a name-bearing type must be deposited in a collection that can ensure its availability and permanence - but for what? If we look at the requirements for a type description, two basic ones are a diagnosis and a description of the type specimen.  Although the two are sometimes confused, their purposes are quite different.  The objective of a diagnosis is to demonstrate that the species (or subspecies) being described is in fact new - that is, different from any such taxon described previously; hence it is comparative in nature, and essentially looks backward to what was already known and described.  The description of the type specimen, on the other had, looks to the future.  Its objective is to provide a standard by which future investigators can compare other material for its identification - and if the new material cannot be ascribed to the taxon, provide a diagnosis detailing its differences, with the corresponding description of another new taxon.  Because a written description has limitations, a type specimen is required to provide a complete, objective demonstration of the features mentioned in the description - a basis for clearing up any ambiguity and permitting detailed comparisons.

 

“In the case of the description of G. urraoensis, there is a type specimen (for birds, this consists of a study skin prepared in the customary manner, deposited and catalogued in an appropriate museum, and to which the description unequivocally refers).  This specimen can (and should) be referred to, compared and measured to settle all future questions of identity.  For the description of fenwickorum, the type material consists of ten feathers from assorted parts of the bird, a photograph, and a DNA sample, which were not so deposited (and with a fictitious collection number).  Regarding the feathers, these will not provide an adequate basis for comparisons because the colors and patterns of the bird itself are the result of the massed effect of the plumage layers - and I can attest to the difficulty of matching isolated feathers to the corresponding parts of the full plumage, having spent considerable time identifying fragmentary remains from transmission-line casualties!  Obviously, the morphometrics cannot be checked from a scattering of feathers either - and if there was any error in the measurements so made on the bird itself, this will further confuse things for future investigators.  As for the photo, as Ellen Paul correctly noted on NEOORN-L, it has never been easier to retouch and alter the color balance, etc. thereof.  Similarly, DNA samples have their own problems - once in a vial or test tube, all birds look alike and the identification must be backed up by a completely identifiable type specimen.  Because the museum that received the DNA sample does not have the facilities for preserving same, its integrity may also be compromised.  Past descriptions based upon photos and DNA have later been shown to be flawed in several instances.

 

“For these reasons, I believe that the description of fenwickorum is fundamentally flawed and should not be accepted: it is to be hoped that these arguments will be considered not only by the SACC, but also by the ICZN itself. After all, the description of new species is a serious matter, deserving of a high scientific standard - accepting less is simply a poor way to contribute to future scientific study - and conservation - of biodiversity.”

 

Comments from Remsen: “YES.  NO on recognizing “fenwickorum” as the name for this new taxon.  I have postponed voting on this one for more than 6 weeks to allow any residual resentment towards the unethical and irresponsible behavior of various ProAves employees and associates with respect to the description of “fenwickorum” (to the point that if I were a member of the Fenwick family, I would be embarrassed – I personally would not want my name associated with such sordid behavior).  In particular, the flagrant disregard by ProAves for the theme of the Code in terms of deposition of the specimen is particularly disturbing.  Sending off feathers with a phony catalog number to an unsuspecting person at a university without a catalogued collection gives the unfortunate appearance of an “up yours!” to scientifically based taxonomy.

            “Putting those emotions aside as much as possible, I find Claramunt’s rationale and intepretation convincing for non-recognition of “fenwickorum.”  Although the proposal resorts to a form of nitpicking to invalidate the name, that’s what the Code’s rules are written for – to make certain that all the rules are followed explicitly.

            “More broadly, however, and following up on Gary’s comments, the description of “fenwickorum” violates the fundamental theme of the definition of “type specimen”.  We should not have to resort to scrutinizing the fine print.  As we all should have learned in our first exposure to the principles of systematic biology, the purpose of a type specimen is to anchor that name to a specimen that shows the diagnostic characters of the taxon and to place it in a collection where the type can be compared.  That’s the whole point of a type specimen.  The “type specimen” of “fenwickorum” does not meet those general principles.  The feathers themselves, for example, were not even taken from the tracts that would allow diagnosis.  Therefore, if the current ICZN somehow rules that “fenwickorum” meets the qualifications of the current Code, then that is an indictment of the Code itself in that it is not written in a way to safeguard the fundamental reason for preserving a type specimen, which is the basal unit of biological taxonomy.  I have no interest in following a Code that does not insure the integrity of that fundamental unit.”

 

Comments from Robbins:

 

479A. Yes, given that I was an official reviewer of the Carantón and Certuche manuscript, where I remarked in my evaluation that this was one of the best prepared descriptions that I have ever read.

 

479B.  One would have thought given the events associated with the absurd antics and description of Laniarius liberatus (Smith et al. 1991, Peterson and Lanyon 1992, Banks et al. 1993, Nguembock et al. 2008) that the ICZN would have rectified and unequivocally clarified what was an appropriate holotype. Yet, two decades later there is still ambiguity associated with what should be a very straightforward and fundamental aspect of a new species description. Because that governing body hasn’t provided unambiguous guidelines, one is left with applying what the scientific community at large has and continues to routinely implement as standards in species descriptions. Gary has provided the very essence of what a holotype should be (see Banks et al. reference as well). Distilling this all down the decision becomes quite straightforward for me. I vote “yes” for recognizing Grallaria urraoensis as the scientific name and Urrao Antpitta as the English name.

Banks, R.C., S.M. Goodman, S.M. Lanyon and T.S. Schulenberg. 1993. Type specimens and basic principles of avian taxonomy. Auk 413-414.

Nguembock, B., FjeldsĆ J., Couloux A., Pasquet, E. 2008. Phylogeny of Laniarius: molecular data reveal L. liberatus synonymous with L. erlangeri and “plumage coloration” as unreliable morphological characters for defining species and species groups. Mol. Phyl. Evol. 48: 396-407.

Peterson, A. T. & Lanyon, S. M. 1992. New bird species, DNA studies, and type specimens: A commentary. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 7: 167-168.”

Comments from Stiles: 479B. “Having urged others to favor urraoensis over fenwickorum, I think that to be consistent (i.e., to put my money where my mouth is) I should change my abstention to a YES.”

 

Comments from Nores:

 

Part A. YES. I think the evidence on hand supports this new species.

 

“Part B. YES. It is evident that the description of the new species by Barrera et al. (2010) is fundamentally flawed and should not be accepted.”

 

Comments from Pacheco:

 

“A. YES.  O trabalho de Carantón & Certuche é convincente em demonstrar a validade do táxon.

 

“B. YES.  Os descritores de Grallaria urraoensis definiram no trabalho original, inequivocamente, o holótipo (=“name-bearing type”) do novo táxon. As ambiguidades e incongruźncias na designaćčo do holótipo de Grallariafenwickorum” foram bem explicitadas por Claramunt, o que – por interpretaćčo do ICZN – torna este nome concorrente como indisponível.”

 

Comments from Zimmer: 

 

“A.  YES.  Based on the evidence presented in the paper by Carantón and Certuche, the new taxon is deserving of recognition as a distinct species.

 

“B. YES.  The only reason that I can see for recognizing the proposed competing name of “fenwickorum” would be buying into the idea that strict priority trumps everything.  Ignoring all of the other questions in this mess, I think it comes down to another part of the Code, that being the requirement of establishing a proper holotype.  As others have already reiterated, the purpose of the holotype is to provide an “anchor” for the name, allowing future workers a standard for comparison and reevaluation.  The published description of “fenwickorum” not only fails to provide such an anchor (= holotype) as envisioned by the Code, it casts the species adrift in a sea of potential confusion.  I think this violation of the Code trumps the priority requirements, and invalidates any recognition of “fenwickorum”.  The Carantón and Certuche description of urraoensis, setting aside any of the “he said, she said” questions of conduct that have been hurled from both sides, does an admirable job of fulfilling the requirements of the Code regarding both a species description and the proper establishment of a holotype, and, as such, should constitute the authority on which this new Grallaria is based, with the specific name of urraoensis being the recognized name.  “Urrao Antpitta” makes perfect sense as a common name, being geographically informative and in concert with the Latin epithet.”

 

Comments from Pérez-Emán:

 

“A: YES to recognize this new taxon based on the morphological, plumage, and vocal data.

 

“B: YES for recognizing G. urraoensis as the scientific name of this new taxon. Although the name fenwickorum might have priority given publication date, Santiago has made a thorough evaluation of the description problems associated with type designation and deposition of type material. More importantly, I fully agree with both Gary’s and Van’s comments on the scientific value of type material and the importance of its appropriate preservation.”

 

Comments from Jaramillo:

 

“A: YES – accept new Grallaria.

“B: NO.  Watching all of this from the sidelines in the end it appeared to me that both camps in this debate had not necessarily acted in the most intelligent ways. All that aside one aspect that concerns me is the inherent politicization of the issue, so much so that a vote here by this committee is perhaps seen from the public as taking a political stand of sorts. I really regret that this is going on. As much as we are all trying to be unbiased and unemotional in this issue, the reality is that it is naturally emotional at this point, to some extent, and probably more than any one of us would like it to be. I will keep it brief because all that there is to say about this topic has been said already. The description of fenwickorum is not the best, and is clumsy and leaves much to be desired but in my consideration the name is available. I think an opinion from the ICZN would be good here, to see if availability is indeed true for this name. I think it is, and as such the name has priority and priority does trump everything to paraphrase Kevin. Having said that, the English name Urrao Antpitta would be good to use for various reasons, including trying to come to some balance in this unfortunate situation.

“Reading the code these articles are particularly relevant:

 

“23.3.2. The Principle of Priority applies even if
“23.3.2.1. any part of an animal is named before the whole animal,”

“This suggests to me that the feathers are in fact a valid holotype. The ambiguity of the feathers and the photo being two parts of the holotype, but treated as different specimens is necessary to consider. I see the problem here, but reading the code there is some room for interpretation. Article 73 is clear about having a single type, but my reading of the article the reasons for this are mainly so that only one individual is being described as the type, and only one species (if dealing with parts of a creature, there could in fact be more than one taxa mistakenly involved – article 73.1.5. In this case it is a single individual is being described of a single species, so the intent of the code appears to be appeased in this case. Perhaps what is necessary is for a new publication that specifically clarifies that the feathers are the holotype, and clarify where they are and the correct accession number? It seems to me that if a subsequent publication clarifies some of the ambiguities, the fenwickorum would stand. I am the first to admit that specific issues on how to apply the code are beyond my experience base, but in reading the code I do not see that the fenwickorum name is invalidated. But my uncertainty in this, and sure there is uncertainty, is why I wonder if the ICZN should not be asked to clarify if the name is valid or not.”