The type specimen of Malacorhynchus speluncae was described and illustrated as being “mouse gray with a bluish luster” on the upperparts and as having a “lighter color on the lower side of the body” which “becomes whitish towards the middle of the throat and breast”. It represents a taxon presently placed in the genus Scytalopus. Since 1907, the name Scytalopus speluncae has been attributed to the predominantly dark-gray species from the southeastern coastal Brazilian mountains. Recently, it was suggested that the name S. speluncae should be applied to a species that is light-gray with whitish belly and extensive barring on the flanks and that occurs predominantly in the Espinhaço Range, Minas Gerais state, to the west of the range of the dark-gray taxon. As a consequence, the dark-gray species, presumably without any available name, was described as a new species, S. notorius. However, on the basis of a critical analysis of the available information on the type specimen of S. speluncae, including the original description and illustration (Ménétriés 1835), and our examination of large series of museum specimens, we demonstrate that the type of S. speluncae falls within the known plumage variation of the dark-gray species and that it does not show the diagnostic characters of the light-gray form. Thus, we propose that the name S. speluncae be applied only to the dark-gray species. Consequently, S. notorius must be regarded a junior-synonym of S. speluncae. Because of problems related to the exact collecting sites of Ménétriés, and taking into consideration the distribution of the dark-gray species, we suggest “Serra dos Órgãos”, in Rio de Janeiro state, as the type-locality of S. speluncae.
Key words: Taxonomy, Scytalopus speluncae, Scytalopus notorius, individual variation, synonymy, type-locality
Maurício, G.N., Bornschein, M.R., Vasconcelos, M.F., Whitney, J.F., Pacheco, J.F. & Silveira, L.F. 2010. Taxonomy of "Mouse-colored Tapaculos". I. On the application of the name Malacorhynchus speluncae Ménétriés, 1835 (Aves: Passeriformes: Rhinocryptidae). Zootaxa. 2518: 32–48.