Proposal (670) to South American Classification Committee


Recognize Scytalopus perijanus as a valid species



Effect on South American CL: This proposal would add a newly described species to the list.


Background: Avendaño et al. (2015) recently described a new tapaculo from the mid-elevation cloud forest and paramo from the Serranía de Perijá of Colombia and Venezuela. Specimens of this tapaculo have been available in museums since 1941, but due to the lack of vocalizations and genetic data, it was inconsistently assigned to different taxa in the S. latebricola-atratus groups or overlooked in the literature of avian distributions (López-O. et al. 2014; see references in Avendaño et al. 2005). Recently, some authors hypothesized that the Perijá population could represent a new taxon based on vocal differences from other Venezuelan taxa (Lentino et al. 2014) and morphometrics (Avendaño & Donegan 2008). The description is freely available online:


The new evidence presented by Avendaño et al. (2015) consists of a series of 17 recently collected specimens along with vocal, genetic and distributional information, which demonstrate that S. perijanus is a diagnosable species that can be told apart from its closest relatives by plumage color, vocalizations, mtDNA and ecology. The differentiation in vocalizations is substantial (i.e., on par with differences among good species in the genus) and likely reflects reproductive isolation from other populations, suggesting that species status is warranted under the biological species concept.


Recommendation: Based on the vocal, genetic, morphological and distributional information, we recommend a "YES" vote to accepting this tapaculo as a new biological species to the South American list.




Avendaño, J. E., A. M. Cuervo, J. P. López-O., N. Gutiérrez-Pinto, A. Cortés-Diago & C. D. Cadena. A new species of tapaculo (Rhinocryptidae: Scytalopus) from the Serranía de Perijá of Colombia and Venezuela. Auk 132:450-466.


Donegan, T. M. & J. E. Avendaño. Notes on tapaculos (Passeriformes: Rhinocryptidae) of the Eastern Cordillera of Colombia and Venezuelan Andes, with a new subspecies of Scytalopus griseicollis from Colombia. Ornitología Colombiana 6: 24-65.


Lentino, M., C. Sharpe, J. L. Pérez-Emán, and Y. Carre ño (2004). Aves registradas en la Serranía de Lajas, Serranía de Valledupar, Sierra de Perijá, Estado Zulia, en Abril del 2004. Technical report. Colección Ornitológica Phelps, Caracas, Venezuela.


López-O., J. P., J. E. Avendaño, N. Gutiérrez-Pinto & A. M. Cuervo. 2014. The birds of Serranía de Perijá: The northernmost avifauna of the Andes. Ornitología Colombiana 14: 62–93



Jorge Enrique Avendaño

March 2015




Comments from Jaramillo: “YES – Unless I am missing something, this seems like a straightforward and well-documented new species.”


Comments from Pacheco: “YES … considering the geographic isolation, distinctions in morphology, vocal repertoire, and MtDNA. The genetic distances from the related taxa are persuasive concerning the proposed status.”


Comments from Stotz: “YES. Seems like there are an inexhaustible number of Scytalopus species.”


Comments from Areta: “YES. A solid biological species that has merited study and a description for a long time.”


Comments from Zimmer: “YES.  Described vocal, genetic and plumage differences appear to be consistent with those in other Scytalopus taxa that we currently recognize at the species-level.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES. The combination of various kinds of evidence makes a strong case for species status.”