Proposal (801) to South American Classification Committee


Establish English names for Grallaricula ferrugineipectus split



In proposal 784, which passed on 21 June 2018, SACC voted to separate Grallaricula leymebambae from Grallaricula ferrugineipectus.


G leymebambae is neither sister to nor particularly close to G ferrugineipectus. It can be viewed, then, that G leymebambae was erroneously included in G ferrugineipectus when initially described. As such, there is not an absolute requirement for a new English name for G ferrugineipectus. Also worth noting is that while there is already precedent for at least two English names for G leymebambae, none of the literature I have available or can recall seeing, which splits the two species, offers any name other than Rusty-breasted Antpitta for G ferrugineipectus.


There is quite a bit of precedent for the name Leymebamba or Leimebamba for G leymebambae. I believe this is based largely on the use of this name (spelled Leimebamba) by Ridgely & Tudor (1994 & 2009). eBird is using Rusty-breasted Antpitta (Leimebamba) to refer to this taxon. Leymebamba/Leimebamba Antpitta is the name that I’ve most heard from birders and the name most frequently seen in trip reports, bird lists, tour descriptions, etc.


On the other hand, HBW uses Rufous-breasted Antpitta, and IOC, which does not treat G leymebambae specifically, does make a note that “Rufous-breasted Antpitta G. leymebambae is a proposed split from Rusty-breasted Antpitta (Van Doren et al. 2018, SACC 784)”. However, I have never heard or read this name in use outside of HBW/Birdlife references.


There is a very mild complication in that Hilty (1986) makes a nod to calling G ferrugineipectus rara "Rufous-breasted Antpitta" if treated specifically.


Comments on Proposal 784 suggested both Sepia-breasted and Russet-breasted for G leymebambae and Ferruginous-breasted for G ferrugineipectus.


Regarding spelling of Leymebamba vs Leimebamba, I believe that Leymebamba is the preferred spelling over Leimebamba. Google shows about 70% use of Leymebamba and 30% use of Leimebamba (i.e., 137k vs 57k search results). Perhaps most importantly, the street signs, museum, municipal buildings, etc., in the town and district spell the name Leymebamba.


In terms of actual names, the first decision is whether to change the name of G leymebambae to something other than Rusty-breasted Antpitta. There is almost no precedent for an alternative name. Rufous-breasted Antpitta, as suggested by Hilty (1986) for G f rara, is in use by HBW currently for G leymebambae and is probably not a good option. On the other hand Ferruginous-breasted Antpitta does correspond to the scientific name and is a good option if it is viewed as necessary to abandon Rusty-breasted Antpitta.


The second issue is a name for G leymebambae, which is needed. I think the best option here rather than introduce more shades of rufous or brown is to make this a vote between Leymebamba Antpitta and Rufous-breasted Antpitta, which are both already in use for this taxon.




PART A: English name for G ferrugineipectus.

A YES vote would be to retain Rusty-breasted Antpitta.

A NO vote would be to adopt Ferruginous-breasted Antpitta.


PART B: English name for G leymebambae.

A YES vote would be adopt Leymebamba Antpitta

A NO vote would be to adopt Rufous-breasted Antpitta


I recommend a YES on both parts of this proposal. There is not a particularly strong need to change Rusty-breasted Antpitta and stability should have precedent here. Leymebamba Antpitta has more precedent than Rufous-breasted, corresponds with the scientific name, recalls that it is the southern taxon, is easier to remember, and is more evocative.


Literature cited:


DEL HOYO, J., ELLIOTT, A., SARGATAL, J., CHRISTIE, D.A. & DE JUANA, E. (Eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.


GILL, F & D DONSKER (Eds). 2018. IOC World Bird List (v8.1).


HILTY, S. L., BROWN, W. L., and G. TUDOR. 1986 A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.


RIDGELY, R. S., AND G. TUDOR.  1994.  The birds of South America, Vol. 2. University Texas Press, Austin, Texas.


RIDGELY, R. S., AND G. TUDOR.  2009.  Field Guide to the Songbirds of South America: The Passerines. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.


Josh Beck, June 2018



Comments from Areta: “PART A. YES. I see no need to change the name of this fairly widespread and relatively well known species. Rusty has a connotation to ferruginous, so I see Rusty-breasted as a good surrogate of Ferruginous.

“PART B. YES. Leymebamba is a good match to the scientific name. Using the rather flavorless Rufous-breasted referring to the color of its breast is of no help.”


Comments from Zimmer: “A. YES.  Normally, in cases such as this, I would advocate for new names for both “daughter” species resulting from a two-way split, particularly when neither of the “daughters” has a substantially larger geographic range than the other [but note, as previously pointed out by Van, that this “split” is not really a parent-daughter issue in a phylogenetic sense].  However, in this case, since most of what is known of the biology and natural history of Rusty-breasted Antpitta sensu lato, is based upon the studies of ferrugineipectus in Venezuela by Schwartz, I think the well-established name of “Rusty-breasted Antpitta” should probably stay with that taxon.  Also, and perhaps more importantly, it would appear to me that there is some potential for further splitting of what we are currently calling G. ferrugineipectus, given that there are multiple, seemingly isolated populations stretching from the Sierra de Perijá through Colombia, the vocalizations of which are poorly known and have not been analyzed in any systematic way (at least as far as I’m aware), and at least one of these populations has been formally recognized as subspecies rara, which is actually considered to be the most divergent of the three taxa (leymebambae, ferrugineipectus, rara) with respect to plumage/morphology.  Given what is currently being discovered by ongoing analysis regarding the apparent explosive radiation within the Grallaria rufula complex, it is not much of a stretch to envision these fragmented populations of “ferrugineipectus” being split multiple ways, once the geographic breadth of vocal and genetic samples reaches some acceptable threshold.  If, and when, that happens, we will indeed need new names for each of the resulting splits.  Better, I think, to keep our powder dry for the time being, rather than boxing ourselves into a corner by preemptively using an English name for ferrugineipectus that might prove more appropriate for one of the isolated Colombian forms.”

“B. YES.  This was the name I always used for this taxon before the split, and I think it is far preferable to any confusing construction based upon some hair-splitting of the colors “rufous”, “ferruginous”, “russet”, or whatever.


Comments from Remsen: “A. YES.  As I pointed out in proposal 784, this is not a parent-daughter split but rather a removal of a subspecies from a species in which it did not belong.  Therefore, the usual guideline of avoiding using a parental name for one of the split daughters is moot; in fact, I think there is a benefit to retaining the pseudo-parental name just to emphasize that the change is not a split in the usual parent-daughter way but rather a change in phylogenetic relationships in the group. “B. YES, for lack of competing name.”