Proposal (601) to South American Classification Committee


Revise classification of Automolus and relatives


Effect on SACC: This proposal would transfer species in and out of Automolus and Clibanornis, and the genera Hyloctistes and Hylocryptus would be merged into those genera.


Background: Our current classification largely follows traditional boundaries in the genera Automolus, Clibanornis, and Hyloctistes.


Clibanornis dendrocolaptoides Canebrake Groundcreeper
Hylocryptus erythrocephalus
Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner
Hylocryptus rectirostris
Chestnut-capped Foliage-gleaner
Hyloctistes subulatus
Striped Woodhaunter
Automolus ochrolaemus
Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner
Automolus infuscatus
Olive-backed Foliage-gleaner
Automolus paraensis
Para Foliage-gleaner
Automolus lammi
Pernambuco Foliage-gleaner
Automolus leucophthalmus
White-eyed Foliage-gleaner
Automolus melanopezus
Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaner
Automolus rubiginosus Ruddy Foliage-gleaner
Automolus rufipileatus
Chestnut-crowned Foliage-gleaner
Automolus rufipectus Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner


New Information: Derryberry et al. (2011) showed that the limits of the genera Automolus, Clibanornis, Hyloctistes, and Hylocryptus were problematic.  Specifically, (a) Hyloctistes was embedded in Automolus, (b) Automolus rubiginosus and A. rufipectus were not members of Automolus but instead closest to Hylocryptus erythrocephalus; and (c) Hylocryptus rectirostris was sister to Clibanornis dendrocolaptoides.  Rather than make taxonomic changes within that paper, a subset of the same author group deferred a revision of the group to a subsequent paper; see Claramunt et al. (2013) for all the details, including an expanded tree from Derryberry et al. (2011) in terms of taxon and population sampling (all critical nodes strongly supported) and an important discussion of how to define limits of genera combining morphology and phylogeny. 


A summary tree of the results and recommended classification is as follows:



         They collapsed 5 genera into 3 (and used the taxonomic category of subgenus to mark additional nodes in the tree).  Note also that Clibanornis is sister to Automolus + Thripadectes, which affects our linear sequence.  The new classification, using the standard sequencing conventions, would be:


Clibanornis rectirostris Chestnut-capped Foliage-gleaner
Clibanornis dendrocolaptoides 
Canebrake Groundcreeper
Clibanornis erythrocephalus 
Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner
Clibanornis rubiginosus 
Ruddy Foliage-gleaner
Clibanornis rufipectus 
Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner




Automolus rufipileatus Chestnut-crowned Foliage-gleaner
Automolus melanopezus Brown-rumped Foliage-gleaner
Automolus ochrolaemus Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner
Automolus subulatus 
Striped Woodhaunter
Automolus infuscatus 
Olive-backed Foliage-gleaner
Automolus paraensis 
Para Foliage-gleaner
Automolus lammi 
Pernambuco Foliage-gleaner
Automolus leucophthalmus 
White-eyed Foliage-gleaner



Analysis/Recommendation:  The data behind this phylogeny are extensive in terms of loci and populations sampled, and all the important nodes are strongly supported.  The analysis of generic boundaries is careful and sensible.  In hindsight, the results make good ecological and biogeographic sense, e.g., Atlantic forest region rectirostris and dendrocolaptoides are sisters, and the more terrestrial foraging behavior of the species in Clibanornis.  The one result that I initially had a problem with was the sister relationship between Hyloctistes subulatus and Automolus ochrolaemus.  However, when I compared the skins of H. subulatus and the most strongly pattern subspecies of A. ochrolaemus, I was surprised at how similar they were in plumage and morphology.

I recommend a YES.



Literature Cited


Claramunt, S., E. P. Derryberry, C. D. CADENA, A. M. CUERVO, C. SANÍN, and R. T. Brumfield.  2013.  Phylogeny and classification of Automolus foliage-gleaners and allies (Furnariidae).  Condor 115: 375-385.


DERRYBERRY, E., S. CLARAMUNT, G. DERRYBERRY, R. T. CHESSER, J. CRACRAFT, A. ALEIXO, J. PÉREZ-ÉMAN, J. V. REMSEN, JR., AND R. T. BRUMFIELD.  2011.  Lineage diversification and morphological evolution in a large-scale continental radiation: the Neotropical ovenbirds and woodcreepers (Aves: Furnariidae).  Evolution 65: 2973-2986.



Van Remsen

November 2013


Note from Remsen:  If anyone wants to submit a proposal on English names, have at it.  Given that “Foliage-gleaner” is also used in Anabacerthia, Anabazenops, Philydor, and Syndactyla, that name is best regarded as referring to an ecomorph, and I’m not sure it would be worth the cost of instability to fool around with Groundcreeper and Woodhaunter.





Comments from Stiles: “YES.  The three-genus treatment seems reasonable in that it involves fewer changes with current nomenclature and fewer small genera, and the genetic evidence for this arrangement seems solid.  There remain some problems to explore, such as species limits in the rubiginosus group, but for the present I’ll go with the arrangement proposed here. As for English names, I agree that “foliage-gleaner” is a pretty reasonable name for a widespread ecotype in the Furnariidae and have no qualms about applying it to A. subulatus – but beyond this, I’ll await further developments (if any).”


Comments from Zimmer: “YES.  The genetic evidence for this treatment seems solid, and I liked that Claramunt et al. used the category of subgenus to delineate additional nodes in the tree.  The resulting arrangement does make good ecological sense (more terrestrial species grouped in Clibanornis) and biogeographic sense (Atlantic Forest dendrocolaptoides and geographically proximate rectirostris of interior s Brazil as sisters) as Van states.  To me, the sister relationship between Hyloctistes subulatus and Automolus ochrolaemus actually makes sense when I think about similarities in calls.  And I remember finding an entire series of museum specimens of one of these species that was misidentified as the other, so, yes, as Van states, they are pretty similar in plumage and morphology.  As Gary points out, there are still some problems within these groups involving species limits, particularly within the rubiginosus and subulatus (I know, I know, one of these days I’ll finish this up…) groups, but meanwhile, there is no reason not to go with the proposed arrangement.  As for possible English name changes resulting from these generic transfers: I’m actually of the opinion that the names “Canebrake Groundcreeper” for C. dendrocolaptoides, and “Striped Woodhaunter” for A. subulatus are so familiar and ingrained that it would be a shame to change either of them to the more generic “foliage-gleaner”, which, as Van points out, is used for several distantly related genera already.  We accept calling Rissa “kittiwakes” even though they are gulls, and we’ve kept “American Robin” while changing every other Turdus to thrush, so I can live with the anomaly of having a “groundcreeper” and a “woodhaunter” embedded within a bunch of “foliage-gleaners”.”


Comments from Pacheco: “[YES] Considero a solução em três gêneros acomodadora, em face dos dados até aqui trabalhados.  Concordo com Kevin que ela traduz melhor as preferências ecológicas dos táxons envolvidos.”


Comments from Robbins: “YES, I fully support the changes that have resulted from the Derryberry et al. genetic data and including these taxa in three genera does seem to be the best course of action.”


Comments from Cadena: “Being a coauthor of the paper, I vote YES. For discussion: should we abstain from voting on proposals deriving from work we have been involved with?”


Response to Cadena’s comment on abstaining from votes on proposals involving one’s own research: “I would say that the only time this might be an issue would be if that person would cast the deciding vote on a proposal, in which case it would be good form to abstain.”