Saturday, March 14, 2015

[Ornithology • 2015] Scytalopus perijanus • A New Species of Tapaculo (Rhinocryptidae: Scytalopus) from the Serranía de Perijá of Colombia and Venezuela

Female (left) and male (right) Perijá Tapaculo Scytalopus perijanus sp. nov. attending a nestling (center).
Note the more rufous nuchal patch in the female. 
Watercolor by Jon Fjeldså. | DOI: 10.1642/AUK-14-166.1

We describe Scytalopus perijanus (Perijá Tapaculo), a new species in the family Rhinocryptidae (suborder Tyranni) found in humid montane and elfin forests (1,600–3,225 m elevation) in the Serranía de Perijá of Colombia and Venezuela. Although specimens of this taxon have been available in museums since 1941, they were not carefully studied and were ascribed to different taxa of the latebricola and atratus groups. We obtained a modern series of specimens that, coupled with analysis of vocal and genetic data, clarified this taxonomic puzzle. The new Scytalopus exhibits distinctive morphological and vocal traits with respect to all other known species and represents a differentiated evolutionary lineage within a clade of northern species, including S. meridanus, S. caracae, and S. latebricola. The new species has not been recorded in sympatry with any other Scytalopus, but it may overlap at lower elevations with S. atratus nigricans, although each uses different microhabitats. Ecological niche modeling indicates that the new species currently has a restricted geographic range within the Serranía de Perijá, where large extents of natural habitat have been cleared and fragmented, particularly on the Colombian slopes. Scytalopus perijanus, however, is uncommon to fairly common in forest fragments, tall secondary forest patches, elfin forest, and paramo vegetation at the treeline.

 Keywords: Andes, cloud forest, nest, paramo, systematics, tracheophone suboscines, Scytalopodinae, vocalizations

Ecology and Behavior: Like many other forest tapaculos, S. perijanus is secretive and difficult to see. The species seems to be common in dense interior and forest edges of humid and elfin forests and highland woody bushes in paramo habitat, especially between 2,500 and 3,000 m elevation. At El Cinco (type locality), paramo Sabana Rubia and San Antonio, we found at least 3–4 territorial males in ~2 ha of suitable habitat; males from at least 2 territories at each site were paired. We observed single individuals foraging in dense thickets within 1 m from the ground, often using forest edges and scrubby vegetation along trails (e.g., patches of Rubus sp.). At Sabana Rubia, individuals often foraged on the ground, running across grassy open areas between bushes. Stomach contents from 7 individuals consisted exclusively of insect remains.

Habitat: The elevational range of S. perijanus covers a variety of habitats from lower montane to upper montane humid forest, elfin forest, subparamo, and paramo. Cloud forests in the Serranía de Perijá, such as those at the type locality, are typically dominated by Prumnopitys montana, Clusia multiflora, Ternstroemia meridionalis, Podocarpus oleifolius, Weinmannia pinnata, Illex sessiliflora, and Hesperomeles ferruginea (Rangel-Ch. and Arellano-P. 2007). Annual rainfall averages ~1,230 mm at Manaure, Cesar, and is seasonally bimodal with slightly drier periods from December to April and in July (Arellano-P. et al. 2007). Vegetation at the treeline inhabited by S. perijanus is dominated by bushes (Diplostephium floribundum), bamboo (Chusquea scandens), and short trees (Hesperomeles ferruginea and Gynoxys spp.). The subparamo vegetation in the area surrounding Sabana Rubia is dominated by bamboo (Chusquea tessellata), grasses (Calamagrostis intermedia and C. effuse), and bushes (Lourtegia stoechadifolia, Arcytophyllum nitidum, Gaylusaccia buxifolia, Hypericum baccharoides, and H. magdalenicum), with scattered patches of small trees (Weinmannia pinnata; Arellano-P. et al. 2007).

Jorge Enrique Avendaño, Andrés M. Cuervo, Juan Pablo López-O., Natalia Gutiérrez-Pinto, Alexander Cortés-Diago, Carlos Daniel Cadena. A New Species of Tapaculo (Rhinocryptidae: Scytalopus) from the Serranía de Perijá of Colombia and Venezuela. The Auk. 132(2): 450-466. DOI: 10.1642/AUK-14-166.1

A New Species of Tapaculo in South America
New species of tapaculo in South America

Describimos a Scytalopus perijanus (Tapaculo de Perijá), una nueva especie de la familia Rhinocryptidae (suborden Tyranni) del bosque montano alto y páramo (1,600 a 3,225 m) de la Serranía de Perijá de Colombia y Venezuela. Aunque han existido especímenes de este taxón en museos desde 1941, éstos no habían sido estudiados con cuidado y fueron asignados a diferentes taxones de los grupos latebricola y atratus. Recolectamos una serie moderna de especímenes que, junto con análisis de datos vocales y genéticos, aclararon este acertijo taxonómico. El nuevo Scytalopus exhibe rasgos distintivos morfologicos y vocales con respecto a todas las otras especies conocidas y representa un linaje evolutivo distinto en un clado de especies del norte, incluyendo a S. meridanus, S. caracae y S. latebricola. La nueva especie no ha sido registrada en simpatría con ningún otro Scytalopus, pero podría solaparse a menores elevaciones con S. atratus nigricans, aunque cada una usa microhábitats diferentes. Los modelos de nicho ecológico indican que la distribución potencial de la nueva especie actualmente está restringida en la Serranía de Perijá, donde se han perdido o fragmentado amplias áreas de hábitat natural principalmente en las laderas colombianas. Sin embargo, S. perijanus es poco a moderadamente común en fragmentos de bosque, en los parches de bosque secundario alto, en el bosque enano y en la vegetación de páramo colindante con el bosque.

Palabras clave: Andes, bosque nublado, nido, páramo, Scytalopodinae, sistemática, suboscines traqueófonos, vocalizaciones