Proposal (581) to South American Classification Committee


Recognize newly described Scytalopus gettyae


Background:  Hosner et al. (2013) described a new species of Scytalopus, Scytalopus gettyae, based on a series of four specimens (three with voice recordings) from Junín, Peru. The specimens are deposited at CORBIDI (Lima) and the University of Kansas (Lawrence); the recordings are deposited at the Macaulay Library (Ithaca; catalogue numbers 166391, 166392, [probably the same individual] 166393, 166394).


Scytalopus gettyae is described as small to medium size tapaculo with uniform blackish in plumage (adult males at least, female plumage is unknown), similar to the allopatric S. latrans complex. It has been found in montane forest at two localities (about 5km apart) in the Rio Satipo watershed between 2400–3200m. S. gettyae is syntopic with S. macropus (which is approximately twice its size) at the type locality, and appears to be replaced by S. femoralis at lower elevations and by S. acutirostris at higher elevations.


The song of S. gettyae differs strikingly from any recognized Scytalopus, a series of ascending ‘arpeggio’ phrases. A second distinctive vocalization is a series of harsh, metallic notes. These vocalizations unequivocally diagnose S. gettyae from all other Scytalopus.


An unpublished phylogeny based on the ND2 gene (Cadena and Cuervo, in prep) places sequences from all four specimens in a monophyletic group, closely related to sympatric S. acutirostris and S. femoralis, as well as allopatric S. latrans latrans, S. l. subcinereus, and S. micropterus.



I recommend a YES vote on this proposal. The English name “Junín Tapaculo” reflects the limited known distribution of the taxon.


Literature Cited:


HOSNER, P. A., M. B. ROBBINS, T. VALQUI, AND A. T. PETERSON.  2013.  A new species of Scytalopus tapaculo (Aves: Passeriformes: Rhinocryptidae) from the Andes of central Peru.  Wilson Journal Ornithology 125: 233-242.


Pete Hosner, July 2013





Comments from Remsen: “YES.  The vocal differences from any other congener are impressive.”


Comments from Robbins: “YES to recognizing Scytalopus gettyae as a species based on its very unique vocalization.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES.  All things considered, species status for gettyae seems warranted: the voice in particular is really off the wall for a Scytalopus and highly distinctive.”