Thursday, March 9, 2017

[Ornithology • 2017] Scytalopus alvarezlopezi • A New Species of Tapaculo (Rhinocryptidae: Scytalopus) from the Western Andes of Colombia

Scytalopus alvarezlopezi 
 Stiles, Laverde & Cadena, 2017

Tatamá Tapaculo |  DOI:  10.1642/AUK-16-205.1  

We describe Scytalopus alvarezlopezi from the Western Andes of Colombia. The new species forms part of a distinctive clade of Scytalopus tapaculos (Rhinocryptidae) that also includes S. robbinsi from Ecuador and S. stilesi and S. rodriguezi, which occur on the Central and Eastern Andes of Colombia. S. alvarezlopezi is easily diagnosable from its near relatives by its song and mitochondrial DNA; differences in plumage exist but are more subtle. The species inhabits dense understory vegetation on the floors and lower slopes of ravines in cloud forest at elevations of 1,300 to 2,100 m. On the Pacific slope, its altitudinal distribution is sandwiched between those of S. chocoensis (below) and S. vicinior (above); the latter in turn is replaced higher up by S. spillmanni and S. latrans, but S. alvarezlopezi also occurs at ∼2,000–2,100 m on eastern slopes just below the low ridgeline. All of the latter species are distinguished by vocal and plumage characters. Marked sexual differences in plumage exist in stilesi, but females have yet to be collected for alvarezlopezi and rodriguezi. We consider that S. alvarezlopezi is not threatened at present, but could be potentially vulnerable due to its restricted distribution; it is endemic to Colombia.

Keywords: Colombia, endemic species, new species, ecology, vocalizations

FIGURE 1. (A, B) Two views of the paratype of Scytalopus alvarezlopezi upon capture at Cerro Montezuma, Mpo. Pueblo Rico, Dpto. Risaralda, Colombia, April 2, 2015. Note the overall dark coloration with blurry, dark rufous barring on the flanks and crissum. (C) The striking pattern of the mouth lining of the paratype. The tongue, commissure, and center of the mandible are white, the lateral portions of the mandible are black. The mouth lining has not been described for any other tapaculo, but might provide a useful character for distinguishing species.

Photos by J. Heavyside. 

Etymology. We take pleasure in naming this species in honor of Humberto Alvarez-López, the ‘‘dean of Colombian ornithology,’’ for his many contributions to the knowledge and study of this country’s birds over nearly half a century. Humberto was professor of ornithology at the Universidad del Valle for nearly 4 decades and helped train several of Colombia’s foremost ornithologists and conservationists; in 1979 he founded in Cali the first local ornithological society in Colombia, an example soon followed by other cities in the country, and long edited and wrote for its journal. His book Introducción a las Aves de Colombia, published in 1979, was instrumental in making the observation of birds accessible to students and the public at large in Colombia, and arguably spearheaded the development of field ornithology in the country. In 1987 Humberto was president of the third Neotropical Ornithological Congress, the only one to be held in Colombia. He painstakingly translated Hilty’s monumental Guide to the Birds of Colombia into Spanish and was a founding member of the Asociación Colombiana de Ornitología, serving for more than 10 years as president and member of its governing body, where his sage advice on difficult matters often has been decisive. ¡Muchas gracias, ‘‘Maestro’’! 

We suggest the English name of Tatamá  Tapaculo for S. alvarezlopezi because the majority of localities for this species are in the middle sector of the Western Andes near the border between Risaralda and Choco Departments, in ´ which the most prominent and best-known mountain is Cerro Tatamá, the center of Tatama´ National Park; Cerro Montezuma is in the park’s buffer zone, Pisones is also within ~7 km of the park boundary, and CDC and OLR have found this species in several sites within the park itself. 

F. Gary Stiles, Oscar Laverde-R. and Carlos Daniel Cadena. 2017. A New Species of Tapaculo (Rhinocryptidae: Scytalopus) from the Western Andes of Colombia. [Una nueva especie de tapaculo (Rhinocryptidae: Scytalopus) de la Cordillera Occidental de ColombiaThe Auk. 134(2); 377-392.  DOI:  10.1642/AUK-16-205.1 

B.C. student helps discover new bird species in Colombia

RESUMEN: Describimos Scytalopus alvarezlopezi de la cordillera Occidental de los Andes colombianos. Esta nueva especie forma parte de un clado bien definido de tapaculos del género Scytalopus (Rhinocryptidae) que también incluye a S. robbinsi de Ecuador y S. stilesi y S. rodriguezi, las cuales están presentes en las cordilleras Central y Oriental de los Andes colombianos. S. alvarezlopezi es fácilmente diagnosticable en comparación con sus parientes por sus vocalizaciones y ADN mitocontrial; también hay diferencias en plumaje pero son más sutiles. La especie habita en el sotobosque denso de los fondos y lados de barrancos en bosque nuboso entre elevaciones de 1,300 y 2,100 m. Sobre la vertiente del Pacífico, la distribución altitudinal de alvarezlopezi está entre las de chocoensis (hacia abajo) y vicinior (hacia arriba); más arriba, vicinior es reemplazado por spillmanni y S. latrans; sin embargo, alvarezlopezi alcanza localmente elevaciones de 2,100 m o más sobre la vertiente oriental de algunos filos bajos justo por debajo de la cima. Todas estas especies se distinguen por vocalizaciones y plumaje. Existen differencias en plumaje entre los sexos de stilesi, pero aun falta recolectar hembras de rodriguezi y alvarezlopezi. Consideramos que actualmente S. alvarezlopezi no está amenazado, pero debido a su distribución restringida, potencialmente podría considerarse vulnerable; es una especie endémica a Colombia.

Palabras clave: Colombia, ecología, especie endémica, nueva especie, vocalizaciones

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