Proposal (722) to South American Classification Committee



Recognize Pseudosaltator as the genus for Saltator rufiventris (A) and change the English name of the species (B)



Effect on SACC: This would provide a new genus name for a species that currently doesn’t really have one


Background: Our current footnote summarizes the situation:


25b.  Hellack and Schnell (1977, REFs) previously noted that “Saltator” rufiventris was an unusual saltator based on plumage and morphology. Genetic data (Klicka et al. 2007, Chaves et al. 2013) have revealed that “Saltator” rufiventris is definitely not a saltator but a tanager, closely related to Delothraupis and Dubusia. SACC proposal passed to move to Thraupidae.  Because there is no other genus name available, the species is maintained here provisionally, as indicated by quotation marks, pending a proposal to move to Dubusia or naming of a new genus.  Dickinson & Christidis (2014) transferred it to Dubusia and called it Rufous-bellied Mountain-Tanager.  Burns et al. (2016) named a new genus for the species: Pseudosaltator.  SACC proposal badly needed.



New Information:  We’ve known for many years that this wasn’t a saltator but rather a tanager, most closely related to Dubusia.  Because inclusion of rufiventris in Dubusia would create a genus that would be difficult to defend in terms of morphology, we have left rufiventris as “Saltatorrufiventris pending naming of a new, monotypic genus.  Burns et al. (2016) have now done this.


         Dickinson & Christidis (2014), who transferred rufiventris to the most closely related tanager genus Dubusia, also changed the English name from Rufous-bellied Saltator to Rufous-bellied Mountain-Tanager.


This proposal is divided into two parts:


(A) Adopt Pseudosaltator as the genus for this species.

(B) Change the English last name from Saltator to Mountain-Tanager (as in the two species of Dubusia), the most closely related species


Recommendation:  Simply to get rid of the unacceptable “Saltator”, I strongly recommend a YES vote on part A.  If during a broader and badly needed appraisal of revised generic limits in Thraupidae proposed by Burns et al. (2016), we decide to avoid a monotypic genus by merging Pseudosaltator into Dubusia, so be it, but for now adoption of Pseudosaltator is clearly preferable in my opinion to the non-Linnaean designation of Saltator”.  This species is morphologically highly distinctive, as signaled by its long-time placement in a completely unrelated genus, until recently itself placed in a different family.

         As for the English name change, I also favor YES on this.  Although monophyly of taxa sharing English names is increasingly infrequent, here we have a chance to keep “Saltator” restricted to Saltator.


Van Remsen, June 2016





Comments from Jaramillo: A - Yes, this is sensible and necessary.

B - I am not bothered by English names matching true relationships, and generally prefer stability and simplicity over other considerations.  However, this is a species that few people interact with.  A change in name will not cause much of a headache for most bird enthusiasts, scientists out there.  I do like the idea of one little change that maintains Saltator as restricted to the genus Saltator.  That is appealing.  Given that there are positives, and only a minor negative, I say YES change the English name to Mountain-Tanager, whatever that means now!”


Comments from Pacheco:  “A. YES. By the way, the chosen name Pseudosaltator is very appropriate. After all, Rufous-bellied Saltator was just a "pretend" or "false" Saltator.”


Comments from Claramunt: “A. YES. Maintaining “Saltatorrufiventris in our list is unacceptable, and erecting a monotypic genus for this species is reasonable given that it is morphologically fairly different from members of Dubusia. (The change in English name is also reasonable since it was derived from the genus name Saltator, not from any vernacular or traditional name.)


Comments from Areta: “YES. rufiventris seems vocally and morphologically distinct enough from Dubusia to deserve its own genus. What a difference between the simple Pseudosaltator for rufiventris and the epic Chionodacryon for "Diuca" speculifera!"


Comments from Cadena: “YES. I usually do not like monotypic genera and prefer classifications conveying information about the phylogenetic affinities of species, but this taxon is really quite different from species of Dubusia.”


Comments from Zimmer: “YES" on part A, and "YES" on part B.  As stated in the proposal, if a reassessment of generic limits in Thraupidae means sinking Pseudosaltator into Dubusia after all, we can always go that route.  But I like the idea of a monotypic genus for truly distinctive taxa, and almost anything would be better than keeping rufiventris in taxonomic limbo with "Saltator".  As for the English name change, the proposed change kills two birds with one stone: keeps the English name of "Saltator" linked to Saltator, and gives rufiventris a name that it shares with its closest relatives, regardless of whether or not they are treated in the same genus.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES - the logical move, and I agree that differences in plumage favor placing rufiventris in a separate genus.”