Proposal (620) to South American Classification Committee


Recognize newly described Lepidocolaptes fatimalimae and split Lepidocolaptes albolineatus into four species



Effect on South American CL: If adopted, this proposal would add a newly described species of Lepidocolaptes to the list and recognize three current subspecies of L. albolineatus (duidae, fuscicapillus, and layardi) as species level taxa.


Background: The Lineated Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes albolineatus), is currently recognized as a polytypic species, with five described subspecies (Marantz et al. 2003). J. T. Zimmer (1934) was the first to lump the taxa fuscicapillus, layardi, and madeirae, along with the new taxon he described in the same publication (duidae), with taxon albolineatus under the polytypic Lepidocolaptes albolineatus according to the theoretical background of the Biological Species Concept (BSC). Before that, Cory and Hellmayr (1925) recognized a polytypic L. fuscicapillus grouping the taxa fuscicapillus, layardi, and madeirae and a separate monotypic L. albolineatus. Over the next 79 years, Zimmer's taxonomic treatment of the L. albolineatus complex has been followed without change (e.g., Peters 1951, Ridgely and Tudor 1994), but more recently Cory and Hellmayr's older treatment was used to delimit subspecies groups in L. albolineatus (Marantz et at. 2003). Patterns of vocal variation indicate that the fuscicapillus group is vocally heterogeneous, with taxa fuscicapillus and layardi being very distinct vocally, hence suggesting that the polytypic L. albolineatus may include more than a single species (Marantz et al. 2003).


New information: A molecular phylogeny based on mitochondrial DNA data showed the existence of five reciprocally monophyletic groups in the L. albolineatus complex, each corresponding to already named taxa, except one including birds from south of the SolimõesIAmazon and west of the Madeira rivers, to which the name fuscicapillus has been incorrectly applied, prompting the description of L. fatimalimae (Rodrigues et al. 2013). Pairwise uncorrected genetic distances among these clades varied from 3.4% (between duidae, fatimalimae, fuscicapillus, and layardi) to 5.8% (between the latter taxa and albolineatus). Vocally, these five molecular clades/taxa have also proved to be very distinct, further supporting their treatment as independent species (Rodrigues et al. 2013).


Analysis/Recommendation: The phylogeny estimated by Rodrigues et al. (2013) recovered with high statistical support a topology whereby five main lineages not corresponding entirely to current subspecific limits within the polytypic L. albolineatus were found. The first clade includes specimens from the Guiana area of endemism (sensu Silva et al. 2005), i.e., east of the Negro / Branco rivers in Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, and French Guiana, and attributable to the nominate form. The second clade groups specimens between the Negro and the northern bank of the Amazon / Solimões in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela and to which the name duidae applies. The third clade consists of birds inhabiting the Madeira – Tapajós interfluve in Brazil and Bolivia, to which two names are in fact applicable: fuscicapillus (the name with priority) and madeirae (Peters 1951, Marantz et al. 2003). The fourth clade groups birds east of the Tapajós and south of the Amazon rivers and to which the name layardi is unambiguously applied.  The fifth clade includes specimens west of the Madeira and south of the Amazon/Solimões rivers to the foothills of the Andes in Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru; these birds were formerly regarded as fuscicapillus, but were shown to be genetically and vocally distinct from birds to which this name truly applies, hence highlighting the need to recognize them as a new taxon (L. fatimalimae).


Based on the reciprocal monophyly and phenotypic (vocal and morphological) diagnoses of these taxa, we recommend the recognition of five species and vernacular names in the L. albolineatus complex:  Lineated Woodcreeper (L. albolineatus; distributed on the Guianan shield north of the Amazon and east of the Branco and Negro rivers in Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, Surinam, and French Guiana); Duida Woodcreeper (L. duidae; found west of the Branco and Negro rivers in Amazonian Brazil and Venezuela westward towards the base of the Andes in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru north of the Amazon/Solimões rivers); Inambari Woodcreeper (L. fatimalimae; distributed west of the Madeira and south of the Amazonas/Solimões rivers in Amazonian Brazil and towards the base of the Andes in Bolivia and Peru); Rondônia Woodcreeper (L. fuscicapillus; found in the Madeira - Tapajós interfluve in Amazonian Brazil south to eastern and northern Bolivia in Depts. of Beni and Santa Cruz); and Layard's Woodcreeper (L. layardi; distributed east of the Tapajós River to northwestern Maranhão in the Tapajós, Xingu, and Belém areas of endemism).


Literature Cited


Cory, C. B. and C. E. Hellmayr (1925). Catalogue of birds of the Americas, part 4. Field Museum of Natural History Zoological Series 13: 1- 390.

Marantz, C., A. Aleixo, L. R. Bevier and M. A. Patten (2003). Family Dendrocolaptidae (Woodcreepers). Pp. 358-447 in: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and D. A. Christie (eds.) (2003). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Peters, J. L. (1951). Check-list of birds of the world. Vol. VII. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Ridgely, R. S. and G. Tudor (1994). The birds of South America: the oscine passerines. Univ. Texas Press. 516 pp.

Rodrigues, E. B., Aleixo, A., Whittaker, A., and Naka, L. N. (2013).  Molecular systematics and taxonomic revision of the Lineated Woodcreeper complex (Lepidocolaptes albolineatus: Dendrocolaptidae), with description of a new species from southwestern Amazonia.  In J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal & D. Christie (Eds.), Handbook of the Birds of the World.  Special Volume: New Species and Global Index, pp.248-252.  Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Silva, J. M. C., S. B. Rylands, and G. A. B. Fonseca (2005). The fate of the Amazonian areas of endemism. Conservation Biology 19: 689-694.

Zimmer, J. T. (1934). Studies on Peruvian Birds XIV. The genera Dendrocolaptes, Hylexetastes, Xiphocolaptes, Dendroplex, and Lepidocolaptes. American Museum Novitates. 753: 1-26.


Romina Batista and Alexandre Aleixo, December 2013





Comment from Thomas Donegan: “We considered these and other HBW splits relating to Colombian taxa for purposes of the Colombian checklist update this year.  The taxonomic proposals here were adopted, for the reasons set out in this proposal.  The molecular and vocal differentiation between these groups is substantial.


“Reference: Donegan, T.M., McMullan, W.M, Quevedo, A. & Salaman, P. 2013. Revision of the status of bird species occurring or reported in Colombia 2013. Conservación Colombiana 19: 3-10.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES, albeit with the same reservations as in the preceding descriptions.  Without photographs of all members of this complex, it is difficult to judge how well the painting represents the diagnosis, as the diagnostic characters are often subtle; in effect, it is difficult to evaluate out of context, as it were.  Geographic distributions make sense and the genetic distances are consonant with species status for fatimalimae, although the small scale of the figure makes it less than easy to interpret: in particular, it suggests that a specimen of fatimalimae was taken well within the range of fuscicapillus??  If not an error or just a blur, this suggests that the two are sympatric over an appreciable area.  The vocalizations shown are clearly distinct, although no statistical analyses are presented; morphometrics are not even mentioned.  So once again, I will go along with the description and the splitting up of this complex, though I feel frustrated at not being able to see all the evidence presented clearly.”


Comments from Remsen: “YES.  The vocalizations appear to be quite different in many ways, and summary stats are presented in the online Supplemental Information (, with good N (7-13) for taxa.  The vocal data alone, in my opinion, clinch the case for species rank for all these taxa, including the new one.  Because the group as a whole is monophyletic, and the paper is not really clear on potential contact zones, with a map that is difficult to decipher, I don’t think that the genetic data are useful in evaluating species limits.”


Comments from Nores: “ABSTAIN.  Although the evidence presented may be sufficient for recognizing fatimalimae, I'm not convinced about the rest. The distribution of the taxa, for example, is more typical of subspecies than species. I agree with Gary when he says: “I will go along with the description and the splitting up of this complex, though I feel frustrated at not being able to see all the evidence presented clearly.”


Comments from Zimmer: YES.  My own field experience with each of the various taxa involved corroborates the described vocal differences, which are substantial.  As Gary notes, it would have been nice to see these quantified, but even a cursory examination of the spectrograms presented reveals songs that differ markedly from one taxon to the next.  The distributions of the resulting five species fit known biogeographic patterns, and genetic distances between them are reasonable, although not particularly impressive.”


Comments from Robbins: “YES. The vocal differences among these five taxa are so distinct that this seems like a very straightforward decision.”


Comments from Pacheco: “YES. O conjunto de evidências, sobretudo vocais, reunidos no trabalho de Rodrigues et al. corroboram substancialmente a proposição.”


Comments from Jaramillo: “YES – the available molecular, vocal and to a certain extent morphological information clarifies that the split is warranted. BUT – I am very concerned about using Lineated Woodcreeper as the English Name of one of these forms. I think it is worth creating a new name for albolineatus (White-lined Woodcreeper? Maybe there are better options).


Additional comments from Remsen: “Alvaro’s point on E names is important.  A separate proposal is needed on English names if this proposal passes.


Additional comments from Remsen (9-8-14): “To get the ball rolling on this, please let me know your preferences among the following:


1. White-lined Woodcreeper (Alvaro’s suggestion from above based on translation of species name)


2. Guianan Woodcreeper (referring to the area of endemism and parallel with “Inambari” and “Rondonia” woodcreepers.


3. other?  Suggestions welcomed.


            Cory used “Spotted-crowned” for albolineatus, which is obviously not a possibility because L. affinis is now called Spot-crowned Woodcreeper.  Lafresnaye described albolineatus, but Lafresnaye is already recognized for his contributions in other names. 


Which reminds me … one reason I like patronyms is that they force me to learn a little history.  “Layard’s Woodcreeper” was the name used by Cory for layardi, which was given by Sclater, to honor Edgar Leopold Layard, who was famous for his work in South Africa and the Pacific, but I did not realize until I checked Wikipedia that he had also been stationed in Brazil, where he collected the first specimens of this taxon: