Proposal (640) to South American Classification Committee


Adopt a new classification for the Quail-Doves (Columbidae)



NOTE from Remsen:  A version of this proposal was recently accepted by NACC.  The following is a slight modification of that proposal for SACC taxa.  A YES vote means endorsing the new genera and generic limits and the new sequence of genera and species.  There are a number of missing species from the genetic sampling, and their linear positions were extrapolated from other predictions of relationships – see Banks et al. (2012) for details.  This sequence will certainly require subsequent tweaking as new data become available..



Johnson and Weckstein (2011) reconstructed a phylogeny, using DNA sequence data from 24 species of doves in 3 putative genera, that showed that the species in the genus Geotrygon (Quail-Doves) are not a monophyletic group.  Six species proved to be closely related to but distinct from Zenaida and one was closer to Leptotila.  With the addition of partial genetic data from two other species, including the type species of Geotrygon (G. versicolor), Banks et al. (2013) used those results (see figure below) to propose a revised classification of the Quail-Doves and their close relatives.  This involved establishing two new genera and a new sequential listing that better reflects phylogenetic relationships.



The two new genera are Leptotrygon (type and only species Geotrygon veraguensis Lawrence, 1866) and Zentrygon (type species Geotrygon costaricensis Lawrence, 1868, with five other species).  The original genus Geotrygon now contains nine species.  The new classification is given below.  Species for which DNA was not available are placed on the basis of previous concepts of relationship.  Extralimital taxa are in gray.


Genus Geotrygon


G. purpurata

G. saphirina

G. versicolor

G. montana

G. violacea

G. caniceps

G. leucometopia

G. chrysia

G. mystacea


Genus Leptotrygon Banks et al.

Leptotrygon Banks, Weckstein, Remsen, and Johnson, 2013, Zootaxa 3669: 185.  Type, by original designation, Geotrygon veraguensis Lawrence, 1866.


         L. veraguensis


Genus Leptotila


L. verreauxi

L. jamaicensis

L. cassinii

L. conoveri

L. ochraceiventris

L. plumbeiceps

L. rufaxilla

L. wellsi

L. pallida

L. megalura



Genus Zentrygon Banks et al.

Zentrygon Banks, Weckstein, Remsen, and Johnson, 2013, Zootaxa 3669: 185.  Type, by original designation, Geotrygon costaricensis Lawrence, 1868.


Z. carrikeri

Z. costaricensis

Z. lawrencii

Z. albifacies

Z. frenata

Z. linearis

Z chiriquensis

Z. goldmani



Genus Zenaida


Z. asiatica

Z. meloda

Z aurita

Z. galapagoensis

Z. auriculata

Z. macroura

Z. graysoni





Banks, R. C., J. D. Weckstein, J. V. Remsen, and K. P. Johnson.  2013.  Classification of a clade of New World doves (Columbidae: Zenaidini).  Zootaxa 3669: 184-188.

Johnson, K. P., and J. D. Weckstein.  2011.  The Central American land bridge as an engine of diversification in New World doves.  Journal of Biogeography 38: 1069-1076.


Richard C. Banks. August 2014


Note from Remsen on English names: Although “Quail-Dove” is no longer a monophyletic group, the hyphen is retained due to the policy of “bird-bird” names always being hyphenated to reduce confusion (e.g., imagine the intractability of reading “lined quail dove” in typical non-ornithological text).





Comments from Zimmer: “YES”.  DNA sequence data from Johnson and Weckstein (2011) show that our current Geotrygon is not a monophyletic group, so we have to make some changes.  I too, suspect that as genetic sampling is broadened, the sequence proposed here by Banks will require tweaking, but the proposed changes make sense to me regarding veraguensis, costaricensis, lawrencii, chiriquensis, goldmani and albifacies, so I think this is a needed improvement over our current treatment.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES. The proposed genera are necessary given the polyphyletic nature of Geotrygon.”


Comments from Jaramillo: “YES – This is clearly necessary now that we have enough information to conclude that Geotrygon is not monophyletic.”


Comments from Pacheco: “YES, given the polyphyly, I see the proposal as a good arrangement.”