Proposal (#244) to South American Classification Committee

Change English name of Sapayoa aenigma

Proposal: This proposal is to choose an SACC English name for Sapayoa aenigma: "Sapayoa" ("NO") or "Broad-billed Sapayoa" ("YES"). Committee members may also wish to consider the wider question of whether English names for monotypic families need standardising.


Reasons for using "Sapayoa" as the English name:

1. Monotypic families and genera often have single word names. Examples on SACC are: Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Limpkin (Aramus guarauna), Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica), Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias), Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin), Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis) and Sharpbill (Oxyruncus cristatus).

But not all monotypic families on SACC follow this rule: e.g. Magellanic Plover (Pluvianellus socialis), Toucan Barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus) and (unless a name change is proposed and assuming its eventual placement in a monotypic family) Black-capped Donacobius (Donacobius atricapilla). Arguably, "Magellanic-Plover", "Toucan-Barbet" and "Donacobius" could be used but only the latter is sometimes found in publications. Notably, the monotypic families on SACC that do not take a single word name are those whose relationships have only recently been resolved, presumably due to entrenchment of old names. Entrenchment arguably also applies to "Broad-billed Sapayoa" (see below).

2. Whilst Sapayoa is broader billed than any Piprid, no Sapayoa is narrower or broader billed than any other Sapayoa. It could therefore be argued that the words "Broad-billed", whilst not misleading, are redundant. This comment applies also to "Black-capped Donacobius" and is a reason why monotypic families often have single word English names.

3. The English name "Sapayoa" is used in some recent texts (e.g. Dickinson 2003; AOU checklists since 1997).

4. "Sapayoa" is not inherently disagreeable like some other Latin generic names that have been proposed for English name usage (cf. e.g. Neopipo ="new manakin" for a Tyrannid; Schiffornis = "Mr. Schiff's bird", an uninformative name; see proposals 187 and 194). The generic name Sapayoa is unlikely to change due to merger with another genus given distance of the Sapayoa branch from that of other suboscine genera in molecular phylogenies (Fjeldså et al. 2003; Chesser 2004).

Reasons for using "Broad-billed Sapayoa" as the English name:

1. "Broad-billed Sapayoa" is probably the more frequently used name in leading recent texts: e.g. Sibley & Monroe (1990), Ridgely & Tudor (1994), Ridgely & Greenfield (2001), checklists of the birds of Colombia (Salaman et al, 2001) and northern South America (Rodner et al. 2000) and all BirdLife International publications. [I do not have access to the HBW volume that includes Pipridae but presume that "Broad-billed Sapayoa" is used as it predates Fjeldså et al. 2003 and Sapayoa is not in the Eurylaimidae volume. If anyone would like to check and amend this please do.] [YES = "Broad-billed Sapayoa" but included in Pipridae with appropriate caveats -- VR]

A GOOGLE search also suggests more widespread use of "Broad-billed Sapayoa":

1580: "Broad-billed Sapayoa" *
1290: "Sapayoa" without the words "broad-billed" **
149: "Broad-billed Manakin"

* Includes pages that mention both names (e.g. SACC baseline).
** Includes pages with Latin but no English names.

2. Sibley & Monroe (1990), who first removed Sapayoa from the Pipridae in a major text, proposed the name "Broad-billed Sapayoa". Fjeldså et al. (2003) used this name in the major paper clarifying the relations of the genus, as did Chesser (2004).

3. The simple generic name "Sapayoa" as an English name informs us little about this bird.

4. Sapayoa was for a long time in the Pipridae and called "Broad-billed Manakin". Using "Broad-billed Sapayoa" provides continuity and could be regarded as being conservative or an approach that pays regard to entrenchment.

5. Fjeldså et al. (2003) and Chesser (2004) showed Sapayoa to be related to the old world suboscines, the English names for which are Broadbills, Pittas and Asities. The similarity between "Broad-billed" and "Broadbill" is cute and informs us about Sapayoa's relations.

References are all on SACC baseline.

Concluding remarks: Should a rule should be established or followed for single-word English names for monotypic families? Or should the more frequently used and descriptive name proposed by persons who clarified Sapayoa's relations be used? Whilst I have no strong opinion, I am probably more inclined towards using "Broad-billed Sapayoa" and the recognition of exceptions to the "rule" for single word monotypic family English names where relationships are recently clarified for continuity and due to entrenchment of old names.

To confirm: "NO" for "Sapayoa"; "YES" for "Broad-billed Sapayoa".

Thomas Donegan, September 2006

Addendum from Remsen: Gill and Wright (2006) use "Broad-billed Sapayoa."


Comments from Stiles: "YES. A case of serendipity that "Broad-billed" actually suggests its relationships as well! (Actually, Broad-billed Aenigma would have been even better, but that´s probably too much to hope for..). Regarding single-word names for species of monotypic families, I see no need to legislate on this point - I'm not aware that any confusion has resulted from the lack of standardization (and there are a smattering of one-word names for species in speciose families as well)."

Comments from Zimmer: "NO. I would prefer just calling it "Sapayoa". The "Broad-billed" part of the name doesn't speak to any obvious field character, and I don't think it is any more informative regarding relationships to the Broadbills, than is the name of Broad-billed Sandpiper, which is clearly not closely related. For what it is worth, the birding community just tends to call it "Sapayoa". I don't feel strongly about this one way or the other, but for a monotypic group I would prefer the simpler name."

Comments from Robbins: "NO. The name "Sapayoa" is all that is necessary for this species; adding "Broad-billed" would be superfluous."

Comments from Remsen: YES. If we were starting from scratch, then, yes, "Sapayoa" would be my preferred name. However, because of the long history of the use of "Broad-billed" with this species, its retention provides a link to that long history that is otherwise obscured by the simple, and largely unfamiliar, "Sapayoa." I also like Gary's point about the fortuitous "broad bill" to signify that indeed it is a Broadbill, sensu Eurlyaimidae + Calyptomenidae (Irestedt et al. 2006)."

Comments from Jaramillo: "NO - I prefer the simpler name, there is no reason to keep the "Broad-billed" here, particularly given that now it is a monotypic family. The single word name will hint at this status."

Comments from Nores [not an official vote on English names]: "NO. Pienso que no tiene sentido agregarles calificativos a especies que son únicas en el género. Lo que si, trataría de cambiar el nombre Sapayoa por otro. El uso de los nombres cientficos como nombres comunes me parece muy poco apropiado y una forma muy simplificada de darle el nombre a un ave."