Proposal (660) to South American Classification Committee


English names for the Lineated Woodcreeper group



The proposal to split Lineated Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes albolineatus) into five species, including one newly described, passed several months ago (SACC 620) but has not been implemented because we need English names for the newly recognized species.


The IOC list (Gill and Donsker 2014) accepted the split and used the following English names.  To get the process started, this proposal is to adopt their names:


A. Lepidocolaptes albolineatus = Guianan Woodcreeper

B. Lepidocolaptes duidae = Duida Woodcreeper

C. Lepidocolaptes fatimalimae = Inambari Woodcreeper

D. Lepidocolaptes fuscicapillus = Rondonia Woodcreeper

E. Lepidocolaptes layardi = Layard’s Woodcreeper




The differences among these species are slight in terms of plumage, and so without looking at them in detail, I suspect the search for any sort of descriptive name is futile.  The alternative of using a group name with modifiers, i.e. “Something Lineated-Woodcreeper”, has the advantage of uniting these 5 species under a single “umbrella” name, and it has a parallel in Dendrocolaptes certhia “Barred-Woodcreeper” group.  The compound names are awkward, but they sure are useful for grouping allotaxa.  A NO vote on all of the IOC names could represent a vote in favor of the compound names.  (See “F” below.)


A. Lepidocolaptes albolineatus = Guianan Woodcreeper.  This species is endemic to the Guianan Shield, and so the name is geographically appropriate.  Personally, I think Guianan as a modifier is getting worn out.  Alvaro suggested “White-lined” as a translation of the scientific name.  Other species of woodcreepers are found in the Guianas, and other species are white-lined, but I suspect that a unique name with respect to the woodcreepers as a whole will be tough to find.  Lafresnaye described the species, but Lafresnaye is already honored with patronyms.  I note that “Guianan Lineated-Woodcreeper” would indeed be a meaningful, albeit ugly, name, in making it clear that this is the Guianan Shield representative of the group.


B. Lepidocolaptes duidae = Duida Woodcreeper.  Although matching the scientific name, I think this one is misleading because most South America field people associate Duida with tepuis, as in Mt. Duida.  The species is widespread in NW Amazonia and is not a tepui bird per se.  Its distribution spans the Imeri and Napo refugia, so neither one of those names would work (see C and D) unless we unleash a novel concoction “Napo-Imeri” Woodcreeper.  Patronymic “Zimmer’s Woodcreeper” is preoccupied.  Maybe some of you can come up with an alternative.  I can sympathize with IOC position on this one.


C. Lepidocolaptes fatimalimae = Inambari Woodcreeper.  This references the name for the Hafferian refugium where the species is found (in W. Amazonia).  I like it.  Even if the committee prefers compound names, I think this is an appropriate modifier.


D. Lepidocolaptes fuscicapillus = Rondonia Woodcreeper.  Same as for C.


E. Lepidocolaptes layardi = Layard’s Woodcreeper.  This was the name used by Cory for the taxon, so it has historical precedent.  Some people don’t like patronyms, but I do when they highlight someone who has made an important contribution, and especially (1) that person has yet to be honored, and (2) appealing descriptive names are lacking.  In SACC 620 I wrote this:


“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:



This species is found only E of the Tapajós, so the parallel name would be Pará Woodcreeper.




This could get complicated, but I think we should vote on each name separately (A-E).  A YES vote favors adopting the IOC modifier (whether modifying just “Woodcreeper” or “Lineated-Woodcreeper”, and a NO means using something other than the IOC modifier.


F. Compound names.  It is also possible that someone could like all the modifiers but favor using the group name Lineated-Woodcreeper instead in each case.  Therefore, let’s add a line, call it F, for this, namely YES = in favor of simple names, NO = use “Lineated-Woodcreeper” for each species.


Recommendation:  I like Inambari, Rondonia, and Layard’s (Yes on C, D, and E), although I look forward to your comments.  I will likely vote NO on A (Guianan) because I like Alvaro’s White-lined better.  I’m not happy with Duida, but would vote for it unless some of you creative minds come up with something better.


Van Remsen, November 2014




Comments from Zimmer: “I vote YES on A–E, and NO on F (use Lineated-Woodpecker as the hyphenated group name for each of the species).  Note that in voting NO on F, I am also stating a preference for retaining each of the IOC modifiers (Guianan, Duida, Inambari, Rondonia & Layard’s) in combination with the hyphenated group name.  I like the group name because it is informative, and, with these five species, the resulting names are still not overly long because each of the modifiers is only a single word (i.e. All resulting names would be 3-part compound names rather than 4-part compound names.).  Van’s analogy to the “Barred-Woodcreeper” group is an apt one.  As for the proposed individual modifiers:  I like each of them, with the exception of “Duida”, and off the top of my head, I can’t think of a better solution for it.  If we adopt “Lineated-Woodcreeper” as a group name, Alvaro’s suggestion of “White-lined” as a modifier for albolineatus would result in a long name that is both awkward and somewhat redundant (lined Lineated).  Without the hyphenated group name, it would be confusingly similar to the English name of the Mexican endemic Lepidocolaptes leucogaster (= White-striped Woodcreeper), which is in the same genus.  “Guianan” may be overworked, but it is accurate and informative.  “Inambari” and “Rondônia” refer to the proposed centers of endemism to which fatimalimae and fuscicapillus (respectively) are restricted, and thus, are most appropriate.  I too, like patronyms, and thus, like Van, find the use of “Layard’s” for L. layardi both appropriate and appealing.  “Duida” although perhaps misleadingly suggestive of a Pantepui distribution, at least agrees with the Latin epithet, and identifies the type locality.  I can’t think of an easy, better alternative.  Returning to the use of the compound group name:  virtually every one of the proposed modifiers becomes, in my opinion, a much better name when paired with “Lineated-Woodcreeper” as opposed to just “Woodcreeper”.  There are plenty of woodcreepers with Guianan, Inambari or Rondonia distributions, but adding one of those modifiers to the compound group name leaves no doubt as to which woodcreeper we are talking about.  In retrospect, I think we made a mistake when electing not to use a similar hyphenated group name for the Violaceous-Trogons.  There is nothing uniquely “Amazonian” or “Guianan” about T. ramonianus and T. violaceus (respectively) when considering the genus as a whole, but when those modifiers are paired with the group name “Violaceous-Trogon” they allow instant association.”


Comments from Robbins: “YES to all until someone suggests better names.  I’m not supportive of adding a hyphenated “Lineated”, so for now I vote “YES” on F.  However, I’m open to suggestions on all of these.”


Comments from Jaramillo: “A – NO; I do like White-lined. B, C, D, E, - YES, although agree that Duida is not a good fit, but at least it is not overused as a modifier.  F – YES use simple names.


Comments from Stiles: “YES on A-E, since I can´t think of anything better. NO on F (i.e., use Lineated-Woodcreeper for each; in spite of making a series of very awkward names, this does have the advantage of pointing out their close relationship.”


Comments from Stotz: “YES on A through E.  YES on F to use just woodcreeper and not the compound name.  I recognize that we could end up with multiple woodcreeper splits of widespread Amazonian taxa, in which case the lack of a modifier might become an issue.  But I’d rather wait until the issue actually raises its ugly head.  I recognize the logical similarity to the Barred Woodcreeper case, (and for that matter to the Warbling-Antbird case).  But the problem in my view is that Lineated-Woodpecker just doesn’t really tell you very much.  Barred Woodcreeper is a very distinctive bird morphologically and the name describes it.  Lineated-Woodcreeper tells me almost nothing and it is a species that I have often seen given the wrong English name when people write about it.”