Proposal (704) to South American Classification Committee


Transfer Saltator and Saltatricula from Incertae Sedis to Thraupidae



Background:  Our current classification treats the saltators (Saltator) and Saltatricula as Incertae Sedis.


New information: Burns et al.’s (2014) comprehensive phylogeny of the tanagers and relatives was based on two mitochondrial and four nuclear loci, and taxon-sampling was nearly complete.  Their summary figure relevant to this proposal is pasted in below:



As you can see, the Saltatorinae is sister to Emberizoidinae, which together are sister to the Poospizinae.


Analysis and Recommendation: These new data show that the saltators are fairly deeply embedded with the Thraupidae, and I see no reason to keep them Incertae Sedis.  As an aside, note that the “saltator morph” also appears elsewhere in the tree, with “Saltatorrufiventris (still needs someone to describe a genus for it) sister to Dubusia-Delothraupis in the Thraupinae.


Literature Cited:

BURNS, K. J., A. J. SCHULTZ, P. O. TITLE, N. A. MASON, F. K. BARKER, J. KLICKA, S. M. LANYON, AND I. J. LOVETTE.  2014.  Phylogenetics and diversification of tanagers (Passeriformes: Thraupidae), the largest radiation of Neotropical songbirds. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 75 (2014) 41–77.


Van Remsen, February 2016




Comments from Claramunt: “YES. We have seen a tenuous signal of Saltator and allies being part of the Thraupidae for years. Finally, there is at least one node with decent statistical support. Note that, their position within Thraupidae is still poorly resolved, as none of the other basal nodes within the family have significant support. Barker et al. (2013, Syst. Biol. 62:298-320.) showed an analysis of the same genes but with reduced taxon-sampling and recovered Saltator within Thraupidae but in a very different position, and the signal seems to come from mitochondrial genes only. Anyway, the important finding is the support for that basal node (Bayesian P > 0.95 in Burns et al. 2014, Bayesian P = 91, Bootstrap P = 87), more than enough to liberate Saltator from the “Incertae sedis” stigma.”


Comments from Jaramillo: “YES. I didn’t think that Saltatricula was going to end up with the saltators, but that is an old story. Both seem to be thraupids, and that is the point here.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES and high time -- several previous papers have strongly suggested that the saltators are tanagers."