Proposal (726) to South American Classification Committee


Transfer Phibalura from Incertae Sedis to the Cotingidae



Background: Phibalura has been traditionally placed in the family Cotingidae but with no obvious close relatives. Snow (1982) suggested that it might be related to Laniisoma, based mainly on plumage similarities. When Laniisoma was transferred to the new family Tityridae (see Proposal 313,, the question about the affinities of Phibalura became one at the family rank: whether it belongs into the Cotingidae or the Tityridae. Lacking any anatomical (syringeal, skeletal) or molecular data, Phibalura remained as incertae sedis in our classification.


New Information: Berv & Prum (2014) conducted a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the Cotingidae using two mitochondrial genes, two nuclear introns, and RAG genes. They confirmed that Phibalura belongs in the Cotingidae, in a clade with Phytotoma, Ampelion, and Doliornis (“subfamily Phytotominae”) and, within this group, Phibalura seems to be sister to the Ampelion-Doliornis clade.


Analysis and Recommendation: Molecular evidence confirmed that Phibalura is a cotinga. Therefore, I recommend placing Phibalura in Cotingidae, and between Phytotoma and Ampelion in our sequence.


Literature Cited:


BERV, J. S., & R. O. PRUM 2014. A comprehensive multilocus phylogeny of the Neotropical cotingas (Cotingidae, Aves) with a comparative evolutionary analysis of breeding system and plumage dimorphism and a revised phylogenetic classification. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 81:120-136.

SNOW, D. W. 1982. The Cotingas: Bellbirds, Umbrella birds and their allies. British Museum Press.


Santiago Claramunt, October 2016




Comments from Remsen: “YES.  Genetic data now anchor this one solidly in Cotingidae, restoring traditional views on its relationships.”


Comments from Stiles: “YES - the genetic data are conclusive.”


Comments from Robbins: “YES, a straightforward decision based on the recent molecular data.”


Comments from Zimmer: “YES based on what seems to be conclusive genetic data, which, as Van points out, restores the traditional placement.”


Comments from Areta: “YES. Convincing evidence to place Phibalura as a cotingid.”


Comments from Jaramillo: “YES.  Good too, as one need not mess with the English Name now.”