Proposal (571) to South American Classification Committee


Adopt a new generic classification for the Parulidae


Recent years have seen several partial reclassifications of the Parulidae (e. g., Klein et al. 2004, Escalante et al. 2009), and we have responded to some of them.  Finally, now, there is one that is based on a thorough DNA analysis of the entire family (minus only a few species/subspecies).  This is the analysis by Lovette et al. (2010).


Using both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, Lovette et al. used several analyses to establish a phylogenetic hypothesis for all genera and nearly all species of the family.  This new classification recognizes 14 genera corresponding to well-supported clades (see tree below).  Several long-recognized generic names fall by the wayside, but there have been at least hints of some of these changes in the past.  For example, Oporornis falls into Geothlypis (as in Escalante et al. 2009), Parula and Dendroica are subsumed into Setophaga, and Wilsonia disappears into Cardellina and Setophaga.  Sequence within some genera also changes.  This analysis also shows that some genera and species generally believed to be parulids actually have relationships elsewhere.  These include the genera Icteria and Granatellus, and extralimital Teretistris, Microligea, Xenoligea, and Zeledonia.


We propose that SACC adopt this classification, which is shown on the next page.  Fortunately, none of this requires any gender changes in specific (or subspecific) names and no homonymies are created. 



Pruning taxa not recorded in SACC area produces the following classification and sequence of genera and species derived from the figure above.  Note that SACC differs from NACC in treating Leiothlypis as separate from Oreothlypis.


Seiurus aurocapilla
Helmitheros vermivorum
Parkesia noveboracensis
Parkesia motacilla
Vermivora chrysoptera
Vermivora cyanoptera
Mniotilta varia
Protonotaria citrea
Leiothlypis peregrina
Oporornis agilis
Geothlypis aequinoctialis
Geothlypis philadelphia
Geothlypis formosa
Geothlypis semiflava
Geothlypis trichas
Setophaga citrina

Setophaga ruticilla
Setophaga tigrina
Setophaga cerulea
Setophaga americana
Setophaga pitiayumi
Setophaga magnolia
Setophaga castanea
Setophaga fusca
Setophaga petechia
Setophaga pensylvanica
Setophaga striata
Setophaga caerulescens
Setophaga palmarum
Setophaga coronata
Setophaga dominica
Setophaga discolor
Setophaga townsendi
Setophaga virens
Myiothlypis luteoviridis
* Myiothlypis basilica
Myiothlypis leucophrys
Myiothlypis flaveola
Myiothlypis leucoblephara
Myiothlypis nigrocristata
Myiothlypis signata
Myiothlypis fulvicauda
Myiothlypis rivularis
Myiothlypis bivittata
Myiothlypis chrysogaster
Myiothlypis conspicillata
Myiothlypis cinereicollis
Myiothlypis fraseri
Myiothlypis coronata
Basileuterus rufifrons
Basileuterus culicivorus
Basileuterus tristriatus
Basileuterus trifasciatus
** Basileuterus griseiceps
Cardellina canadensis
Cardellina pusilla
Myioborus miniatus
Myioborus brunniceps
Myioborus flavivertex
Myioborus albifrons
Myioborus ornatus
Myioborus melanocephalus
Myioborus pariae
Myioborus albifacies
Myioborus cardonai
Myioborus castaneocapilla


* not sampled by Lovette et al., but subsequently shown to be the sister to Myiothlypis luteoviridis by Gutiérrez-Pinto et al. 2012 (Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 2012)

** not sampled by Lovette et al., but placed here based on plumage similarities to B. tristriatus group noted by Hellmayr (1935) and Ridgely & Tudor (1989).


Literature Cited


Escalante, P., L. Márquez-Valdelamar, P. de la Torre, J. P. Laclette, and J. Klicka.  2009.  Evolutionary history of a prominent North American warbler clade: the Oporornis-Geothlypis complex.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53: 668-678.

Klein, N. K., K. J. Burns, S. J. Hackett, and C. S. Griffiths.  2004.  Molecular phylogenetic relationships among the wood warblers (Parulidae) and historical biogeography in the Caribbean basin.  Journal of Caribbean Ornithology 17:3-17.

Lovette, I. J., J. I. Pérez-Emán, J. P. Sullivan, R. C. Banks, I. Fiorentino, S. Córdoba-Córdoba, M. Echeverry-Galvis, F. K. Barker, K. J. Burns, J. Klicka, S. M. Lanyon, and E. Bermingham.  2010.  A comprehensive multilocus phylogeny for the wood-warblers and a revised classification of the Parulidae (Aves).  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57: 753-770.


Richard C. Banks (with modifications for South America by Van Remsen)

February 2012



Comments from Stiles: “YES.  Given the quantity and quality of the genetic evidence, I don’t see any reason not to accept this proposal, even though some long-established names go by the boards.  The diagnoses of a number of these genera were pretty marginal in any case – there have long been doubts regarding distinguishing Parula, Vermivora and Dendroica, or Oporornis and Geothlypis (and Wilsonia).


Comments from Zimmer: “YES.  The genetic evidence seems pretty conclusive, and we’ve already made serious strides in this direction anyway.”


Comments from Pacheco:  “YES, Due to coverage of taxa sampled and the quality of this analysis in this paper.”



Comments from Nores: “YES, but I would put Mniotilta varia and Protonotaria citrea after Parkesia motacilla



Seiurus auricapilla
Helmitheros vermivorum
Parkesia noveboracensis
Parkesia motacilla                                              Mniotilta varia
Protonotaria citrea

Vermivora chrysoptera
Vermivora cyanoptera
Leiothlypis peregrina
Oporornis agilis


Response to Nores from Remsen: “Concerning the placement of Parkesia vs. Mniotilta + Protonotaria, Manuel is correct that this is a potential option given weak support of those interior branches, but given that NACC has already adopted the sequence above, we have no justification for differing from it without new data.  Further, even if support is identical, the least-diverse branch (single genus Parkesia) goes first.”