Proposal (9) to South American Classification Committee


Continue to recognize Otus roboratus, Otus petersoni, and Otus marshalli as species


Because vocalizations are so important to understanding relationships within this order (at least until there are reliable molecular data), I refer committee members to the latest version of Hardy et al.'s (1999 edition), Voices of the New World Owls. You will need to listen to that publication to follow what I'm presenting below.


I propose that we recognize Otus roboratus and Otus petersoni based on the publications that covered those species. In the description of petersoni Fitzpatrick and O'Neill (Wilson Bull. 98:1-14, 1986) considered the possibility that petersoni might be a smaller, allopatric population of O. [ingens] colombianus. However, when I recorded and collected colombianus in northwestern Ecuador in 1988 (on Hardy et al. 1999), it immediately was clear that Traylor (Natural History Miscellanea, no. 99, 1952) correctly allied colombianus with ingens. This leads to the question whether colombianus should be recognized as a species. Fitzpatrick and O'Neill recommended species status, which was followed by Kong et al. (Owls, A guide to the Owls of the World, 1999); however, Hardy et al. (1999) and Ridgely and Greenfield (The Birds of Ecuador, 2001) elected to rank it as a subspecies of ingens. There are morphological differences (measurements and plumage characteristics; Traylor [1952]; König et al. [1999]) and colombianus is allopatric from ingens (so if you invoke the phylogenetic species concept it is an easy decision), but their voices are quite similar. Without any other information this comes down to a judgment call. To be consistent with what I propose we do for the guatemalae complex (see below), then we should probably treat colombianus as a subspecies of ingens.


One final comment regarding petersoni: Marshall, Behrstock, and König (review of the 1990 version of Hardy et al.'s owl tape, Wilson Bull. 103:311-315, 1991) considered petersoni as a subspecies of marshalli, despite the fact that marshalli appears fairly distinct from petersoni in plumage. In an apparent reversal, König et al. (1999) recognized both as species. There still is no unequivocal recording of marshalli ­ I recommend that we treat marshalli as a species.

Mark B. Robbins, Dec. 2001




Comments from Schulenberg: "YES. This ignores (for now) the notion that petersoni is the same thing as was described earlier as Otus huberi Kelso (or Kelso and Kelso), described from (if faulty memory serves me) "Bogota".


“I know that Marshall was (still is?) pushing the huberi-has-priority (and is the same thing as petersoni) idea, but I am not certain that he ever got this into print.


“I guess it's a moot point for now: if someone believes in the notion and wants to run with it, they can write their own proposal. For me, I don't have any idea if Marshall was right or not, and it is easier to let sleeping types lie.


Comments from Alvaro Jaramillo: "YES, lets continue to recognize those species. I guess a yes vote lumps colombianus into ingens? Is a separate proposal needed to do that, or have we just done it?