Proposal (246) to South American Classification Committee


Eliminate Kalinowski's Tinamou Nothoprocta kalinowskii from the list of South American species


Background: Nothoprocta kalinowskii is known from only three specimens. It was described by Berlepsch and Stolzmann (1901) from a site (Licamachay) believed to be near Cuzco, that is to say, in an intermontane valley in south central Peru. In subsequent years, the type, which was in Warsaw, was seen by, or drew comments from, few if any ornithologists. Hellmayr and Conover (1942) suggested (apparently without having seen the type) that kalinowskii was "probably a race of" the widespread Ornate Tinamou Nothoprocta ornata, of which there was no representative in the department of Cuzco.


Decades later, Meyer de Schauensee (1966) reported a second specimen was in the collections of the American Museum of Natural History, collected at a site in the western Andes of northern Peru. Meyer de Schauensee repeated the suggestion that kalinowskii may be a subspecies of ornata, although the new specimen placed the only two sites for kalinowskii at opposite ends of the distribution of Nothoprocta ornata branickii. It is not known who identified this specimen as kalinowskii (although it probably was Maria Koepcke), or on what basis. Regardless, the AMNH specimen became the modern "template" for what kalinowskii was (rather than the type, which was difficult to access). More recently, Vasconcelas (2002) reported a third specimen, similar to the AMNH specimen and from the same part of Peru.


It's not that unusual for a species to be known from only a few specimens, or to have disjunct distributions. But no other Peruvian species has a distribution similar to that reported for Nothoprocta kalinowskii. Furthermore, as mentioned above, the reported distribution of kalinowskii lies in two pockets at the northern end of, and just to the southeastern end of, the distribution of Nothoprocta ornata branickii. This distribution is difficult to reconcile with literature suggestions that kalinowskii might be a distinct subspecies of ornata.


Recent evidence: Krabbe and Schulenberg (2005) reported on "A mystery solved: the identity and distribution of Kalinowski's Tinamou Nothoprocta kalinowskii" (pdf available from TSS or from Remsen). Krabbe visited Warsaw and studied the type of kalinowskii. Krabbe and Schulenberg review the slight reported differences between kalinowskii and branickii, and variation within branickii, and conclude that kalinowskii is "merely an extreme individual variant" of branickii (see the comparative photographs in Krabbe and Schulenberg; our use of the adjective "extreme" makes the type of kalinowskii sound more different from run-of-the-mill branickii than it really is). Therefore, kalinowskii is a junior synonym of branickii (described by Taczanowski in 1874), and not a separate taxon.


Furthermore, Krabbe and Schulenberg were able to retrace the route of Jean Kalinowski, the collector of the type of Kalinowski's Tinamou. The exact location of "Licamachay" remains undetermined, but clearly it was farther west than Cuzco, and likely not disjunct from or parapatric to the distribution of branickii.


Krabbe and Schulenberg also discuss the two specimens, reportedly kalinowskii, from the western Andes. These two specimens differ in some (subtle) ways from topotypical branickii (and from the type of kalinowskii). The limited evidence suggests that these specimens may represent no more than the end point of a cline in variation at the northern edge of the range of branickii.


Recommendation: A "yes" vote on this proposal - which is what I recommend - would be a vote to accept the conclusions of Krabbe and Schulenberg to "demote" kalinowskii from species to junior synonym of Nothoprocta ornata branickii.



Berlepsch, H. and Stolzmann, J. 1901. Descriptions d'oiseaux nouveaux du Pérou central recueillis par le voyageur Polonais Jean Kalinowski. Ornis 11: 191-195.

Hellmayr, C. E. and Conover, H. B. 1942. Catalogue of birds of the Americas, Part I, number 1. Field Mus. Nat. Hist. Zool. Ser. 13 (Publ. 514).

Krabbe, N., and T.S. Schulenberg. 2005. A mystery solved: the identity and distribution of Kalinowski's Tinamou Nothoprocta kalinowskii. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 125: 253-260.

Meyer de Schauensee, R. 1966. The species of birds of South America and their distribution. Narberth, Pennsylvania; Livingston Publishing Company.

Vasconcelos, M. F. 2002. A newly discovered specimen of Kalinowski's Tinamou Nothoprocta kalinowskii from the Andean Pacific slope of Peru. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 122: 216-218.


Tom Schulenberg, October 2006





Comments from Remsen: "YES. Clearly, burden-of-proof now falls on anyone claiming that kalinowskii is a species-level taxon."


Comments from Robbins: "YES. Krabbe and Schulenberg have shown that "kalinowskii" should be considered a synonym of Nothoprocta ornata branickii."


Comments from Stiles: "YES. The arguments of K&S are convincing, and clear up most satisfactorily the status of this doubtful "taxon."


Comments from Jaramillo: "YES - Certainly does clarify a mystery."


Comments from Nores: "YES. Los argumentos de Krabbe and Schulenberg son bastante convincentes, teniendo en cuenta los pocos ejemplares existentes. De todos modos, pienso que el problema no está totalmente resuelto y merece estudios específicos de campo para determinar si realmente la especie existe o no.


Comments from Pacheco: "YES. Os argumentos de Krabbe & Schulenberg são satisfatórios para desconsiderar o até então enigmático Nothoprocta kalinowskii como táxon válido."