2009-A-1: Change linear sequence of species in the genus Cyanolyca

YES. 10 without comment.

YES. But the mirabilis + nana clade occurs to the NW of the pumilo+argentigula clade, so shouldn’t the sequence be:
Cyanolyca mirabilis
Cyanolyca nana
Cyanolyca pumilo
Cyanolyca argentigula
Cyanolyca cucullata

2009-A-2: Elevate Aphelocoma [californicawoodhouseii and Aphelocoma [californicasumichrasti to species

YES. 2 without comment.

YES to both splits for the reasons outlined in the motion.

NO. I think that the combined evidence (mtDNA, plumage, morphology, ecology, behavior, voice) supports species-level differences (comparable to Oak-Juniper titmice) between callifornica and woodhousei, but I agree with those who voted NO that a quantitative study of the contact zone is crucial. I do not see any reason to rush this split, so for now I am taking the conservative approach and voting to wait until such a study is published. I also agree that the evidence for splitting sumichrasti is weaker, and thus am voting NO on that proposal as well for now.

YES to split woodhousei (+ sumichrasti) from californicaNO to split sumichrasti from woodhousei. I think the case is pretty clear that woodhousei and californica should be treated as separate species. Large genetic differences, monophyletic clades (excluding the Pine Nut mts situation as JVR points out), plumage, and vocal differences all correspond. I am far less sure about splitting sumichrasti from woodhousei. There does not seem to be any information if the behavioral and vocal differences correspond to the breaks in plumage. The nest helping behavior is cited as only occurring in Oaxaca, whereas the diagnostic sumichrasti plumage is more extensive. Howell and Webb state the calls in “south Mexico” are noticeably higher and shriller, but where is this break? The genetic differences point to a small amount of genetic independence, but not to the extent where the two clades are monphyletic (not that important to me anyway). Hardy (1964) stated that calls of sumichrasti are different that “other Scrub Jays known to me,” but does that include woodhousei and californica? [he had done field work within the distributions of both spp]. The only reference to differences in vocalizations between woodhousei and sumichrasti in Curry et al (2002) is citing Hardy (1964) and Howell and Webb. The five intergrade specimens cited by Pitelka represent a fairly large percentage of the specimens taken where these taxa near one another. Three of the intergrades are from Hidalgo, and two are from DF. Almost all specimens he examined of A. w. cyanotis are from San Luis Potosi, and only a few (3?, including the type) are from Hildago or (3) from DF. In Puebla, he examined 14 specimens of sumichrasti. Notice also, that the color distribution map of Delaney et al. shows that woodhousei broadly blends into sumichrasti.

NO on both parts. I agree with others that this proposal is very well presented, and I note that we have split species on the basis of similar information to that contained in this proposal, especially in the case of woodhousei. For instance, in this same proposal set, splits have been made in trogon species on the basis of mitochondrial DNA, plumage, and qualitative vocal data. The difference here, to me, is that there is a contact zone where there is discordant data on morphology and genetics. The contact zone provides the opportunity to observe directly whether these taxa are truly reproductively isolated, and the discordance of the datasets suggests that the contact zone should be studied in some detail. I think we should wait until more work has been done in the zone of overlap and we better understand species interactions in this area.

YES. If this proposal were based solely on the mtDNA data, I would have voted no. However, the congruence of the mtDNA clades with phenotypically and behaviorally distinct populations makes the case stronger.

YES on split of woodhousei but NO on splitting sumichrasti without further study.

YES. We’ve already let the cat out of the bag on Scrub-jays, and it would be inconsistent to do otherwise. The proposed English names are ok for me.

NO. I believe that eventually woodhousei and californica will end up being split by the committee, but I think the existence of intermediate specimens, the discordance of phenotype and genetics in one population and the small sample sizes for the genetic studies from areas of potential contact mean that this study has not established the case for splittling californica and woodhousei. The case for splitting sumichrasti is weaker still.

NO. The evidence for species status in woodhouseii is not bad as far as it goes, but what occurs in that narrow zone of contact is a critical and underdeveloped aspect (n = 5, and all are indicative of hybridization). The critical question of whether the birds themselves recognize each other as different species is answerable, and the answer does not appear in Delaney et al. (2008). Given that so many different characters are congruent (even if some are qualitative and not particularly “strong” for indicating species limits, e.g., habitat, vocalizations, and behavior), the chances are good that there is assortative mating, but the present data bring no clarity to this. The citation of >2600 museum skins showing “very low rates of immigration” between californica and woodhouseii is a bit of a red herring; what matters is what is occurring in contact, and it is doubtful that this seemingly large sample is very informative in that regard. The case for sumichrasti being a full species is terribly weak. I think both should remain subspecies until more conclusive data can be obtained. No shared haplotypes is a lineage sorting issue, and sample sizes remain relatively small (especially in and near the contact zone). This is a case where I do not think taxonomy needs to “fix” a paraphyletic mtDNA relationship. Finally, this is one of the best proposals I’ve yet read.

NO. The proposal itself is excellent, but the underlying data are weak. The evidence can be grouped as follows:

(a) paraphyly. That californica as presently defined is paraphyletic with respect to insularis in terms of mtDNA is no surprise (in fact, expected if insularis is a recent californica offshoot) and not, in my opinion, of any taxonomic significance at this level of population differentiation (nor would it be to Willi Hennig himself). Also, this may depend on part as to how the Pine Nut Mtns. birds were classified in the analysis: if phenotypically close to californica but classified in the analysis as woodhouseii genetically, then what would happen to the analysis if phenotype were used to reclassify them? Certainly, phenotype should be a better indicator of overall genetic similarity in this case because of the likely greater number of genes involved and the matrilineal inheritance of mtDNA.

Delaney et al. (2008) sequenced only 389 bp of mtDNA (control Region I). Not only is the number of base pairs tiny by recent standards, but also the tree is a gene tree, not necessarily a taxon tree. Nonetheless, on biogeographic grounds, I suspect that other variable loci would show the same pattern, with insularis a californica offshoot, rendering broadly defined californica as paraphyletic. At this level of differentiation, paraphyly is expected due to lineage sorting and hybridization, and so in my opinion, monophyly with respect to any particular set of loci is not required for species rank. Otherwise, for example, Polar Bear would have to be lumped with Brown Bear (if I am remembering those data correctly). In this case, the existence of insularis should not affect the ranking of the californicawoodhouseii, and sumichrasti with respect to each other. Delaney et al. noted that the insularis-californica split is more recent than the californica-woodhouseii split, and thus argued that if insularis is ranked as a species, so should woodhouseii. Although the appeal of that logic is understandable, it does not take into account that a small population on an island may undergo rapid divergence and acquire characters associated with reproductive isolation faster than groups isolated for longer periods. I don’t think anyone expects speciation, however defined, to proceed in a neat clocklike manner.

(b) contact zones. That all these groups are easily distinguished phenotypically means only that they are valid taxonomic units, not whether they should be ranked as species or subspecies. That intermediate phenotypes have been reported from contact zones is worrisome. That the Pine Nut birds were considered phenotypically “closer” to californica (vs. “as” californica), that Peterson found 15 possible intergrade specimens (californicawoodhouseii), and that Pitelka found 5 possible sumichrastiwoodhouseii intergrades all suggest the potential for nonassortative mating if any two populations formed a true contact zone.  Delaney et al. noted that Peterson looked at 2647 specimens and “found only 15” potential hybrids. What is actually relevant is not the total number of specimens examined but the proportion of those examined in the contact zone that was intermediate. Further, such examinations may not tell the whole story, because as Delaney et al. noted, 5 specimens from the Pine Nut Mtns. identified by Peterson as Aphelocoma californica occleptica shared haplotypes with woodhouseii.

(c) vocalizations. Intriguing but insufficient to say the least. The higher-pitched call of woodhouseii (vs. sumichrasti) could be expected from bioacoustic considerations because of its more open, shorter-stature (in general) habitat), and the consequences in terms of a potential isolating mechanism are unknown. Further, the vocal data are, as far as I can tell, purely qualitative.

(d) haplotype diversity and distribution. Delaney et al. consider the break between californica and woodhouseii-sumichrasti “substantial” and that it “suggests a long history of isolation and evolutionary divergence within this species.” “Long history” by their estimate is +/- 328,000 years. Whether that is long or not depends on your viewpoint. The 3.2% sequence divergence between californica and woodhouseii+sumichrasti would be good enough for species rank by bar-coder standards, but there are populations of sedentary tropical birds that differ by more than 3X this amount but are phenotypically indistinguishable (Ben Marks 2008 PhD. Dissertation).

From the map in Delaney et al (Fig. 1), I see only 1 locality (Douglas = Pine Nut Mountains, NV) that truly represents a contact zone. In fact, that’s the messy locality as far as phenotype-genotype inconsistencies. Here the birds phenotypically are californica according to Peterson but have woodhouseii haplotypes. That Delaney et al. placed the birds from this locality in their woodhouseii is not only circular reasoning but taxonomically incorrect. If they had been included in the californica group, the clean genetic differences between the two groups erode. The next closest localities in terms of being close to potential contact zones, i.e. where the rare haplotypes from the opposite group have the highest chance of occurrence, are n, f, and h, which have Ns of 7, 5, and 3 birds, respectively (if I’m reading the map correctly), none sufficiently large to detect rare haplotypes. Note also that there are no woodhouseii localities closer than ca. 150 miles to the potential contact zone in southern California. In summary, the study (actually 100% dependent on Town Peterson’s original sampling) is not really designed to assess gene flow in contact zones, and even the sampling at the closest localities, where shared haplotypes most likely to be found, is insufficient to detect rare haplotypes.

(e) bill shape. Definitely suggestive, but bill shape is a notoriously plastic character in general, and intraspecific geographic variation in bill shape in the same region and for the same ecological reasons is known for Sitta carolinensis. On the other hand, the latter may in fact consist of more than one species, and bill shape differences also coincide with species boundaries in Oak/Juniper titmice.

Delaney et al. argue that sumichrasti should be ranked as a species, but the evidence for this is by their own admission substantially weaker than that for californica vs. woodhouseii. In fact, most of their data could be interpreted the opposite way. I have no preconceived notions on species limits in these jays. Woodhouse’s and California jays may very well be valid species under the BSC. However, to determine this the contact zones have to be studied much more intensively, not only with respect to genes and plumage, but also voice and bill shape.  I look forward to a study that addresses the critical issues.

2009-A-3: Elevate Troglodytes troglodytes pacificus to species status See Addendum, Proposal 2009-E-1

YES. It would be interesting to know just which ssp of 5th ed. or Phillips Part 1 are included, for statement on Distribution.  Apparently just pacificus of 5th ed.

YES. The preponderance of behavioral and genetic evidence points this way, although there is some evidence of mtDNA haplotype introgression away from the zone that was studied.

YES, for reasons given in the proposal.

YES. The vocal data are very compelling, and the genetic data largely back this up. I wouldn’t expect these kind of results unless there is serious reproductive isolation. Looking at the Drovetski et al. paper, the Aleutian and St. Paul subspecies are grouped with pacificusT. t. salebrosus was sampled in Toews and Irwin, and it presumably aligned with pacificus, but I could not find this for sure. Geographically salebrosus abuts pacificus and is pretty separated from hiemalis.

YES. I am familiar with all of the primary literature that underlies this recommendation, and this split is reasonably well supported by multiple lines of evidence.

YES. But this is the tip of the T. troglodytes iceberg. When we are done the NA ones will be a different species, but we must await the data.

YES, but I agree that this is the tip of the iceberg. Even just within the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan there are strikingly different forms that hardly seem likely to represent a single species, but I doubt if any field studies have been done.

YES (though barely). While I like the Toews and Irwin (2008) study, I don’t think the evidence is a slam dunk on this question of species limits. I found this statement in the proposal to be a bit disturbing: “..with no evidence of mixed singers or intermediate song types (which would be expected if the two were exchanging genes)” In fact, in species like this and other oscine passerines that learn their song, this is not an expectation (though they seem aware of this on p.2701). Also, I find it odd that the proposal does not mention that there was also evidence of hybridization (one bird from Gavin Lake, away from the contact zone). Sample sizes in the zone of sympatry are small (N = 12 pacificus and 4 hiemalis for the genetics) and exclude females. And while there were 44 allopatric pacificus, there were only 12 allopatric hiemalis (population genetics power here is relatively low). Finally, although it does not seem to be clearly stated, the data do not include the sex that disperses most (females). We expect structure to be higher in males. Nevertheless, the indirect inference of assortative mating within the contact zone (no mismatch between song and genotype) suggests that they could very well be good species, and the AFLP analyses explore nuclear genome “cohesion” of the two forms. With 1/72 birds showing genetic admixture it would seem that gene flow is very low, and the authors’ Discussion makes a good case for recognition as biological species. I also accept the authors’ suggestion of the common name being Pacific Wren.

YES. No comment.

YES, but with some reservations. It is important to note that this study has N=1 in terms of sites, and within that site, N= 4 and 18 singing males of the two taxa. Nonetheless, the data produced strongly suggest that the two taxa treat each other as separate, not same, species. As the authors noted, opportunities for studying the contact zone are increasingly limited. One of the authors’ best points, in my opinion, is that the mt-genetic differences between the insular forms of Winter Wrens in Aleutians and mainland pacificus are inconsequential despite strong geographic isolation and phenotypic differentiation, yet hiemalis and pacificus differ strongly in mt-genetic differentiation despite sympatry. Perhaps I missed it, but the authors did not mention the difference in call notes. After extensive experience with pacificus call notes in CA, I did not recognize hiemalis call notes as belonging to the same species until actually tracking the birds down. All in all, I think the burden of proof now rests on those who would treat them as conspecific. I agree that to retain hiemalis in troglodytes doesn’t work and would prefer to keep both as separate species, and let our Palearctic colleagues sort the rest out. English names: I think this deserves a separate proposal. “Pacific” Wren connotes something to do with the Pacific Ocean directly; in fact, other Pacific Somethings are either marine species or Pacific island species.

YES to splitting T. pacificus but NO to then considering T. troglodytes hiemalis and closely allied T. t. pullus as only subspecies of the Old World wren.

The paper by Toews and Irwin (2008) indicating that eastern (hiemalis) and western (pacificus) Winter Wrens are good species on the basis of sympatry with little or no interbreeding in the Tumbler Range of northern Alberta, is not surprising. Birders have known since at least the late 1980’s that the vocalizations, especially the call notes, of eastern and western birds were very different. I note in passing that while Toews and Irwin (2008) do note the distinct song differences, they completely overlook the contact note differences, which may well be more significant as they are likely under stronger genetic control. They also don’t describe the distinctive plumage differences. It’s interesting to note that the faster and more complex songs of western subspecies is parallel to eastern and western populations in Marsh Wrens as has been detailed by Kroodsma.

For what it’s worth, although Alaska subspecies are larger (especially bill) and paler than pacificus of the dark humid northwestern forests, their songs and call notes sound the same and they readily respond to playback of songs of pacificus.  Considering all of the western and Alaskan subspecies belonging to the same species makes sense to me. 

My problem with this motion and with Toews and Irwin’s paper is placing eastern Winter Wrens with the Old World birds. I think they follow Kroodsma and Momose (1991) on this in which those authors considered eastern rather than western birds closer to Eurasian birds on the basis of song analysis. But those conclusions are more tempered in the BNA account (Hejl et al. 2002) in which Kroodsma is an author. I have heard contact notes of Old World (European) birds and they do indeed sound quite unlike anything both the hiemalis and pacificus groups give.

Geographically, an east to west colonization of Eurasia rather than across the Atlantic seems fairly widely agreed upon. Kroodsma and Momose (1991) speculated that boreal-eastern birds crossed the Bering Straits region during an interglacial period (in Hejl et al. 2002). There is, however, a subspecies (islandicus) from Iceland. But logically the route of Old World colonization involves the north Pacific/Bering Sea. The range of Winter Wren seems pretty continuous between the Bering Sea Islands (alascensis on the Pribilofs), and the Aleutians (Kiskensis from Kiska Island and east, and meligerus from Attu and Aggatu Island), and the Commander Islands and Kamchatka (pallescens), northern Kuril Islands (kurilensis), southern Kuril Islands (fumigatus; also includes Sakhalin, Japan and northern Izu Islands), southern Izu Islands and Borodino Is. (mousukei), Tanegashima and Yakushima Islands (ogawae) and Taiwan (taivanus). In particular, the Commander Islands (pallescens) are only 150 miles or so away from Attu Island (meilgerus). Given the Pacific birds abilities to colonize seemingly all of the Aleutians, plus the Pribilofs, I would strongly lean to believing that Commander birds would share affinities to the Aleutian birds (thus pacificus) rather than to eastern North American hiemalis types. And I see a line from Brewer (2001) that “songs from the Aleutian islands and the Kommandorskii Islands are distinctly harsher in tone.” I see from the introduction to the account in HBW that it has been proposed on the basis of recent DNA analysis that the “Northern Wren” be considered to consist of six clades (W Nearctic, E Nearctic, Europe, E Asia, Nepal and the Caucasus).

So what to do? Placing eastern hiemalis in the same species with all Old World birds, including pallescens of the Commanders and Kamchatka is unacceptable. Lumping the pacificus group with Old World birds and splitting the hiemalis group as its own species seems more tolerable and logical, but is hardly a more supportable option. Keeping the status quo until the relationships of New and Old World birds is determined is an option, but then I don’t particularly like that as here in the New World, our area of primary concern, the evidence shows we have two species and I’d rather see that acknowledged sooner rather than later. So, in choosing the least of a series of less than satisfactory options, I choose to split both New World groups as their own species, T. hiemalis and T. pacificus, and to let the Old World authorities sort out the mess of subspecies over there. It may well be at a future date that pallescens and other east Asian races might get folded in with T. pacificus.

As for English names I prefer keeping the name “Winter” in the name, so Pacific Winter Wren and Eastern Winter Wren would be my preference. I’ll leave it to others to determine if a hyphen is needed. I could live with Eastern Winter Wren and Western Winter Wren too. Those names seem to be the ones most popular at the moment within the birding community.

Literature cited above:

Brewer, D. 2001.  Wrens, Dippers, and Thrashers.  Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

Del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. &Christie, D.A. eds.  (2005).  Handbook of the birds of the World.  Vol. 10.  Cuckoo-shrikes to Thrushes.  Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Hejl, S.J., A. Holmes, and D.E. Kroodsma.  2002.  Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytesIn The Birds of North America, No. 623 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.).  The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Kroodsma, D.E., and H. Momose.  1991.  Songs of the Japanese population of the Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes).  Condor 93:424-432.

2009-A-4: Change Cyanocorax morio to Psilorhinus morio

YES. 6 without comment.

YES, for reasons given in the proposal.

YES. I would have preferred to see more Cyanocorax species included, particularly cristatellus, which has been placed in a different genus (LSU has tissues). Another way to deal with this is to merge Calocitta in Cyanocorax (Cyanocorax has priority). But I would rather see the morphologically distinctive Calocitta and Psilorhinus maintained. The genus Psilorhinus will need to be removed from the synonymy of Cyanocorax.

YES. Genetic data demand resurrection of Psilorhinus and overturn a change that was weakly justified. A brief history of the covert transfer of Psilorhinus into Cyanocorax should be placed in our Notes.

YES. Why did they change it in the first place?

YES. I never liked that merger, and, while I hate to see the Committee reverse itself, the evidence for Psilorhinus has only grown stronger with time, so let’s put back where it was.

2009-A-5: Revise linear sequence of New World jay genera

YES. 3 without comment.

YES. Sequence A preferred.

YES, for reasons given in the proposal (sequence A).

YES. Favor sequence A to maintain stability as much as possible within the current linear order.

YES (sequence A). I would have liked to see more outgroups (other old world corvids & Nucifraga) to make sure that New World “Jays” are monophyletic. Nevertheless, I presume they are and the analyses are sound.

YES. I prefer sequence A to preserve the more familiar sequence.

YES. New sequence required to reflect new data. I like sequence A (minimum disturbance to current sequence but still reflects new data.) Sooner or later we should be able to display trees on online checklist as pop-ups to reflect branching patterns.

YES. Use the sequence preferred by the majority. I have no informed opinion.

YES. I would favor sequence A which retains more of the current sequence.

2009-A-6: Change linear sequence of genera in the Cotingidae (SACC #382)

YES. 7 without comment.

YES, for reasons given in the proposal and for consistency with the SACC.

YES, following SACC.

YES. This is straightforward. Welcome Back Lipaugus!

YES. With this and the trogons, etc. below, unless there is good reason, I think we should follow the SACC’s lead.

2009-A-7: Recognize Trogon caligatus as a separate species from Trogon violaceus (SACC #50SACC #378)

YES. 3 without comment.

NO. I should preface this by reference to our standing precendent on species limit and higher-level taxonomy decisions. In the past, we have stood by the standard of published, quantitative evidence in support of a view. We have also preferred evidence from multiple character systems. Each of these three proposals are based on _published_ mtDNA data (albeit in each case with little more than exemplary population sampling–which isn’t a criticism of the study, since determining species limits wasn’t its primary aim), combined with qualitative descriptions (and in some cases illustration) of exemplary morphological and vocal differences. I admit I am inclined to accept this evidence on its face, if for no other reason that each of these splits involves cis/trans relationships and follow on the heels of decades of (to my mind) overzealous lumping. However, no published quantitative analysis (even a list of specimens examined, for heavens sake) of the morphological or vocal data exists, so by that standard I have to say no. Regarding this split in particular, I looked at the Xeno-Canto coverage of these species, and it’s pretty paltry for South America.  I don’t know if Ridgely and Greenfield based their judgement on a more extensive sample, or not, because sampling isn’t discussed in the B of E.  Likewise, the B of E illustrates one difference (extent of blue on the head) and mentions that others exist, but doesn’t discuss geographic or population sampling.  As such, I think this one should await further evidence. Unfortunately, this puts us in the position of disagreeing with with SACC. Would we need a note somewhere indicating incongruences?

YES. In general I think that we should strive for congruence between the NACC and SACC lists, and the SACC members certainly know the birds better than I. However, am lukewarm on this vote because I agree with other comments from this committee re: the evidence. Without seeing the comments or votes from the SACC, I would have voted no on the proposal because of the lack of published, quantitative vocal or morphological analyses (votes on the original SACC proposal did not consider the qualitative vocal differences sufficient for a split) and the single mtDNA marker.

YES, following the SACC, and YES following the SACC to the English name of Gartered Trogon. With this and the next two motions (2009-A-08 and 2009-A-09), I’m left wondering if the SACC will reconsider following comments from this group – if so, we might then reconsider the issue.

NO. The genetic data are backing up the informed guesses of field guide writers, but there is still nothing published on what is important for species recognition in vocalizations of Trogons. I would like to see a comparison of how vocalizations between the sympatric cucucui vs ramonianus differ in comparison to differences between allopatric violaceusramonianus and caligatus. I am not sure if this one genetic data set is very useful. I would prefer data sets that could better recover differences between morphologically distinct taxa or even between sympatric taxa. I would be surprised if hybridization is overriding the phylogenetic signal, as hybridization is not known within this group (unlike large white-headed gulls).

YES, following the unanimous SACC vote.

YES. Although I appreciate the weaknesses of the genetic and vocal data, NACC members need to keep in mind that no explicit rationale was ever given for the lump of caligatus into violaceus. This was done by Peters without even a word of rationale. Neotropical field people are struck by the vocal differences, which are greater than are those between many taxa currently treated as species, and have been basically waiting for anything in print to return to the pre-Peters classification. If this were a novel or surprising taxonomic treatment, the standards would have been much different. Therefore, SACC view is that burden of proof is on those who would treat them as conspecific, for which there is no evidence other than plumage similarities. Yes, the genetic data are just a gene tree (as clearly outlined in SACC proposal), but they suggest that violaceus and caligatus are not sisters.

NO. The DaCosta and Klicka (2008) paper does not adequately address species limits. Genetic data are equivocal at this time; vocalizations are qualitative; morphological differences are not given in detail, and I do not know these birds offhand. On this and the next two proposals: From my reading of this (and not having field experience with all of these taxa in the Trogon series of proposals), this looks like a great set of species limits studies that should be undertaken; I just don’t like shooting from the hip before the evidence is formally summarized: conclusive evidence does not seem to here at this time. What are species-level vocal differences within in Trogon? How much and in what ways does geographic variation occur? Do vocalizations show concordant patterns with plumage variation? With nuclear genes? (Latter not critical, just an interesting question.)

YES. I realize that this proposal passed the SACC apparently unanimously, but I am somewhat less comfortable with the strength of the evidence for this and the other proposed splits within Trogon. The phylogenetic data are based on only an ND2 mtDNA gene tree, the vocalization data are qualitative and largely unpublished, and the morphological evidence is not mentioned in the proposal. Of these, the splits seems to be motivated in large part by the mtDNA evidence. Given the very shallow terminals that define some of these new taxa, I would be happier if there was multilocus evidence showing that these relationships are not being driven by introgressive hybridization. For example, the two nominate violaceus haplotypes are only weakly differentiated from their sister taxon in the tree, Trogon curucui. I also note that some of the nodes in the greater ‘violaceus’ complex have bootstrap/posterior probability scores in the 80s – which is high but also certainly within the realm where we often see nodes flip around with increased nucleotide sampling, even within the same marker linkage group.

On a point that is tangentially related to this and the other Trogon proposals, I also note that the new phylogeny shows two pairs of taxa that we currently recognize as separate species being basically undifferentiated in mtDNA: melanocephalus = citreolus and collaris = aurantiiventris. In both cases these are splits that we’ve had doubts about already (see 7th edition). I realize that time is always limiting, that these Trogon proposals came to us from the SACC, and that melanocephaluscitreolus, and aurantiiventris are all found only in the NACC area, but nonetheless it would be great to be able to consider the potential lumps along with the potential splits arising from this new information.

In summary, I’m not vehemently against these proposed splits within Trogon, but I think that the evidence overall is perhaps not quite as strong as the SACC commentaries might indicate; they are definitely in the grey zone for me. In the absence of the SACC outcome I would have probably voted ‘no’ pending multilocus genetic data or more rigorous comparisons of phenotypic differentiation, but with that SACC determination I vote ‘yes.’ I’m am very lukewarm about this vote, and the available evidence tips me towards a no vote, but in the end the SACC vote and my deference to their experience with these taxa tip me back just barely into the yes zone.

2009-A-8: Recognize Trogon chionurus as a separate species from Trogon viridis (SACC #379)

YES. 4 with no comment and 2 with reference to comments for proposal 2009-A-7.

NO. The mtDNA data are less ambiguous in this case, but if we are going to apply our “only if published” rule, this one has to fail, as well.

YES, following the SACC, and YES following the SACC to the English name of White-tailed Trogon.

YES. Compared to the violaceus/caligatus split, the genetic data is a bit stronger for separation, and the vocal differences are much stronger. Why not use Snowy-tailed Trogon or Snow-tailed Trogon for chionurus, and Green-backed for viridis?  I think most people prefer if each new taxon in a split has a new English name.

YES. The case for this split is weaker than for resurrecting species rank for T. caligatus, especially because it is novel, but otherwise, they are parallel situations.

NO. Same reasons as given for proposal 2009-A-7.

2009-A-9: Recognize Trogon mesurus as a separate species from Trogon melanuruss (SACC #51, SACC #380)

YES. 4 without comment and 2 with reference to comments for proposal 2009-A-7.

YES, following the SACC.

YES. As the new taxon (T. mesurus) is outside the purview of the N&MA CLC, I prefer to let follow the vote of the SAAC.

YES. With same comments as for proposal 2009-A-8.

NO. 2 for reasons stated above.

2009-A-10: Recognize a new species of Red Crossbill, Loxia sinesciurus Benkman

YES. 2 without comment.

NO. As the authors state regarding the AFLP data: “The pattern is consistent with selection causing divergence in these regions of the genome in the face of gene flow that has homogenized the rest”. Why is this not simply local adaptation in the face of massive gene flow? Even if only about 2% of individuals are mating outside of the Black Hills gene pool per year, that translates to well over a single individual per generation, which is enough to prevent significant differentiation in the absence of selection. More generally, this draws us into an ungodly taxonomic quagmire, from which I don’t think any amount of data can extricate us (in the near future).

NO for now. I think the authors have made a case for a unique and probably reproductively isolated population of crossbill, but I too would prefer to deal with the North American complex as a whole.

NO (weakly). I have little doubt that there are multiple species within this complex, including the South Hills Crossbill, but difficult as it might be, I’d still prefer a comprehensive motion dealing with the entire complex, at least in North America. I gather a paper has been submitted to Western Birds advocating a split of a northwestern population of Red Crossbill. Perhaps Benkman (and others) might be willing to make a more comprehensive recommendation as to what should be done at the species level in regards to North American birds. I could change my vote on this and don’t particularly want to stand in the way of progress, or in recognizing “tips of icebergs.” The Europeans have taken the piecemeal approach and recognized Parrot Crossbill (Loxia pytyopsittacus) and even Scottish Crossbill (Loxia scotica). There are eleven other subspecies recognized by Dickinson (2003) in the Old World. How many more cryptic species are over there? On the basis of the vocals I’ve heard, I have little doubt that the Old World White-winged Crossbill (L. l. bifasciata) should be split from our New World nominate race (L. l. leucoptera), but that’s a separate issue.

YES. Although I agree that there is some degree of circularity in assigning individuals to groups in this case, I believe that Benkman et al. have conclusively shown that there is a distinctive population of crossbills in the South Hills that is reproductively isolated from sympatrically breeding crossbills that re more widespread. I have no doubt that strong reproductive isolation is keeping the South Hill crossblls from mixing with the call-note 2 and call-note 5 crossbills. Although it would have been preferable to have a type specimen and series vouchered, what is done is done, and we have to vote on this particular presentation of sinesciurus

YES. I’ve read the original background literature on this situation – the science involved is strong and I think this meets our criteria for species recognition. Decisions on species status will be much tougher if we get proposals relating to the more widespread and less diagnosable call types/bill forms.

YES. I agree with others that the vouchering leaves a lot to be desired, but the data are compelling. I doubt anyone will put together a comprehensive approach to all the red crossbills in a reasonable time frame, so if anything is ever done it will likely have to be piecemeal. And, this is analogous to the case of T. troglodytes (only much more difficult), in which many (all?) of us have just voted to split off pacificus piecemeal.

YES. I vote yes with some trepidation. This would not be my choice for the first case in the Red Crossbill complex to split, but the case seems well constructed. There are issues with this case and I concur with some of the complaints that have been raised regarding types and vouchering. However, I think the evidence that this is a distinct species is clear, and I don’t think that the vouchering issues will undo the basic story.

NO. if these were humans, we would at best have a race (= subspecies in birds). Having a taxon diagnosable only by a learned vocalization (that at least sometimes changes within an individual!) is not sufficient for me. I’m also not convinced of the genetic data but am open to clarification (don’t we expect 5% of loci to fall outside the 95% CI?). The type of assortative mating documented occurs in scads of migratory species – an important precursor to speciation but not an indication that it has occurred. I was more on the fence about it until I re-read the paper. This is the tip of a much larger iceberg than suggested in subsequent comments, because it extends far beyond crossbills.

NO, but basically on a technicality, namely exceptionally weak specimen documentation. I think Benkman and colleagues have made a reasonable case that this population is unique and reproductively isolated. The very low frequency of inter-call-note pairing provides better evidence for reproductive isolation than we have for a number of taxa ranked as species in AOUCL (Northwestern Crow being the prime example), although this may not be a fair test because Type 2 and Type 5 presence was concentrated late in breeding season of sinesciurus. But given the exceptionally small differences among these populations, exceptionally large volumes of data must be mustered.

Here’s the problem I have with all of the data in this system: although I basically trust the observers that they’ve accounted for this, the danger of circular reasoning in assigning birds to call type without also documenting that these match bill measurements complicates assessment. Given that the Benkman group has already documented occasional call-switching, this is a problem. The male and female of a pair are assigned to group based on call note, as far as I can tell, without any independent check on whether that corresponds to the morpho-group. The further problem with independent identification is that the bill measurements, as given in Benkman, overlap, and the means differ by only 0.3-0.5 mm (9.91 for sinesciurus males vs. 9.63 and 9.40 for the other call types); therefore, as far as I can tell, it would be difficult to tell in the hand for certain whether the call type assignment matched a morpho-group, especially given that these small absolute differences are within the expected range of measurement error (especially in hand-held captives). For example, the bill depth of the type specimen of sinesciurus, 9.74, is within the range of the bill depths for the other two call types. Thus, as far as I can tell, the designation of the type specimen to call type is based on recordings that were not shown because of background noise and may not have been archived (at least this is not mentioned in the type description). The “Diagnosis” in the technical description does not really provide a diagnosis, just average population differences, except for the diagnostic call notes, which are attributed to the type specimen based on unpublished recordings.

In summary, although I think Benkman and lab are really on to a fascinating system that illuminates the speciation process, I am concerned for the authors’ own sakes that the conclusions are not supported by an unimpeachable database. For me to vote yes on this would require (a) the archiving of the recordings of the type specimen so that they can be independently verified, (2) an additional series of > 10 specimens with associated, archived recordings of each individual plus tissue samples. This may come across as overly demanding or picky, but sorting out these crossbills will require rigorous standards of documentation.

One more minor point.  I do not object to breaking up the red crossbills piecemeal. This is such a difficult group to work on that each piece of the puzzle may require a separate set of research projects.

English name. If only this isolated range had a more distinctive name! PlaceNames.com listed “South Hills” ranges from California, Montana, Oklahoma, and Utah (but not Idaho!). Further, it is also found in the Albion Mountains – it is not endemic to the South Hills albeit the major population is there. It looks as if both ranges are in Cassia Co., so Cassia Crossbill or Cassia County Crossbill might merit some consideration. Given the apparent coevolution with the local subspecies of lodgepole, Latifolia Crossbill would dramatize that relationship. If the proposal does pass, I do not think we should automatically accept the proposed English name South Hills without further discussion, including involving Benkman lab for feedback.

2009-A-11a: Split Pipilo into two genera

YES. 6 without comment.

YES. An independent, unpublished analysis of a large data set that includes 4 mtDNA and 3 nDNA genes for all species of Aimophila plus related taxa – including Melozone and some Pipilo – showed similar results with high bootstrap and posterior probabilities, and supports this split. Re: the sequence within “true” Pipilo, I agree that we should keep the current sequence for now. If you look at DaCosta et al. (2009), the relationship of P.ocai and P. chlorurus to P. maculatus-P. erythrophthalmus is unresolved (very short branch, bootstrap < 70%). I think we should keep the current sequence for now, pending additional evidence that supports P. ocai as basal and P. chlorurus as sister to P. maculatus-P. erythrophthalmus.

YES. I vote to split Pipilo into two genera, with the Rufous-sided Towhees (including Collared Towhee) being retained in Pipilo. As for the new linear sequence within what will remain of Pipilo, I question the need to change the existing order which will become: P. chlorurus, P. ocai, P. maculatus and P. erythrophthalmus. Da Costa et al. (2009) “suggest” that chlorurus is sister to maculatus-erythrophthalmus and this result contradicts Zink et al. (1998) in which four of five topologies suggested an ocai-maculatus (erythrophthalmus not sampled) pairing. There is a well known hybrid zone between ocai-maculatus and from my experience (including hearing songs), I would far favor Zink et al’s (1998) treatment. Green-tailed Towhee seems pretty different to me in terms of song, call notes, and perhaps behavior, although it has hybridized on at least one occasion with P. maculatus for what that’s worth (probably not much). I worry about going with this and finding ourselves in a Passerina type situation, i.e. that Blue Grosbeak and Lazuli Bunting were sister species based solely on mtDNA studies and a nuclear study showed instead that Indigo and Lazuli Bunting were sister species (shock of shocks!). Another situation to await a study based on nuclear DNA before changing the linear sequence?

YES. Even though I would prefer if some nuclear sequences were added, the signal from two mtDNA genes is very strong that these groups are quite different.

YES. These generic revisions, and those proposed in #12 below, are based primarily on the new mtDNA phylogeny of DaCosta et al. (2009). Although all of these revisions are supported by nodes in their tree with reasonably high bootstrap support (80% or greater), some of those internodes are short. I suspect that this is not the final word on the relationships of these taxa. However, in contrast to my stronger reservations about the species-level splits within Trogon based on mtDNA evidence, issues like introgression are less likely to pertain to the deeper relationships involved here. The Discussion section of the DaCosta paper also provides a summary of the history of the taxonomy of these birds, making a good case for the congruence between these proposed splits and prior (non-molecular) hypotheses as to their relationships. While multilocus data might further inform us about the relationships of these birds, I think that the changes proposed here are a substantial improvement on the current classification and they are more likely than not to hold up under additional marker sampling.

YES to restricting Pipilo to the rufous-sided clade. Although inclusion of chlorurus in this group might at first seem surprising, I think it shares some vocal similarities with maculatus.

2009-A-11b: Merge Melozone kieneri (resurrect Pyrgisoma) See Addendum, Proposal 2009-E-2

YES. 3 without comment.

YES. See comments on 2009-A-11a.

YES. I am unhappy with this vote, but think the alternatives are currently worse. I think an Aimophila with all of Melozone, the brown towhees, and the remnant Aimophila is just combining too disparate taxa and doesn’t make sense. This may be a temporary fix, but at least we are not creating a new name, which we’d have to do with a just brown towhee group.

NO. If the problems expressed with respect to 11b are true, then I could not approve b as written in the proposal.

NO. An independent, unpublished analysis of a large data set that includes 4 mtDNA and 3 nDNA genes for all species of Aimophila plus related taxa – including Melozone and some Pipilo – generally agrees with DaCosta et al. (2009) in that M. kieneri belongs to a clade that includes P. crissalis and P. fuscus to the exclusion of M. biarcuatum and M. leucotis (93-96%, 1.0 posterior probability). However, in contrast to DaCosta et al.’s (2009) results, all analyses showed that M. biarcuatum and M. leucotis are sisters with high support (ML bootstraps are only 75-80%, but Bayesian posterior probabilites are 0.97-0.98), and that the clade containing these two taxa is in turn sister to M. kieneri + P. crissalis and P. fuscus. Thus, these results show the brown towhees to be nested within MelozoneAimophila rufescens, A. ruficauda, and A. notosticta form a well-supported but separate clade in the Bayesian analysis (0.99 posterior probability). This Aimophila clade is part of a bigger clade that includes these species of Melozone and Pipilo. Thus, the pattern is: ((((P. crissalis, P. fuscus) M. kieneri) (M. biarcuatum, M. leucotis)) (A. notosticta (A. rufescens, A. ruficauda))). On the basis of these results, I suggest a 4th option which is to merge the brown towhees into Melozone. It does not make sense to merge these taxa plus those 3 species of Aimophila into a single genus, nor does it make sense to merge the brown towhees with M. kieneri into a genus separate from the other Melozone. I think that a new proposal is needed. However, since these are unpublished data, it seems prudent to wait until publication?

A weak NO. This may mean a need to finding a new genus name for the brown towhees, if this part of the motion doesn’t pass, but I might change. I’ve seen this colorful and strikingly marked species (Melozone kieneri, Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow) a few times over the decades and have spent time with them; it came as a bit of surprise that they might be aligned with the somberly plumaged non crissalis group towhees. I can appreciate that Melozone is polyphyletic and needs to be broken up, and, while I realize that this arrangement gives us a genus name for the brown towhees, I worry that convenience becomes a primary factor in resolving the issue. From DaCosta et al. (2009) I see the wording that Melozone kieneri is “apparently sister to the brown towhee assemblage”, and then later DaCosta et al. (2009) say “Our tree differs from Zink et al’s (1998) in that we find strong support for M kieneri as sister to the four members of the brown towhee group whereas they did not.” From that reading I see a bit of ambiguity and I’d like to be convinced by others that this is the right way to go.  Perhaps it’s time to await a study based on nuclear DNA?

PARTIAL. When I first looked at the trees, I was thinking it would be best to group the brown towhees (without kieneri) into a genus. However, I concur with Jon that we should not do this just because it is convenient, while not having a name for “brown” towhees is definitely not convenient. The bootstrap support for kieneri + brown towhees is a passable 88%, but again this only with a mtDNA data set. Also, the positions of the two other Melozone species are not resolved. But creating new taxon names purely for temporary use is not convenient either, and just increases synonymies. The best thing at this point may be to merge the four brown towhee species and the three species of Melozone, with the three sp. Aimophila (notosticta, ruficeps, and rufescens) under the genus Aimophila. This would be, of course, a rather diverse assemblage of sparrows, but it would be the best course until we figure out the relationships (or someone will name the brown towhees). Since I am voting to split the towhees (11a) something needs to be done with the 4 spp of brown towhee. If I vote No on 11b, then it conflicts with my vote on 11a, until another proposal is available. Right now that would be to merge these (with Melozone) into Aimophila

NO on a nomenclatural technicality. I note the statement in the discussion of the JAB paper under Pipilo “The former generic epithet for kieneri is Pyrgisoma (Bonaparte 1851, Pyrgisoma kieneri). This name would have priority and should be resurrected.” However, it looks like Pyrgisoma was founded on biarcuatum (see e.g. Cat. Bird. BM), which I believe (with reference to ICZN art. 42.3) makes it an inappropriate generic name for kieneri plus the brown towhees (when biarcuatum is excluded). There is an existing name for just this grouping, Kieneria (see Coues, Proc. ANSP, p. 89, http://books.google.com/books?id=hdmV9EQGeHsC&pg=PA89&dq=kieneria+bonaparte#v=onepage&q=kieneria%20bonaparte&f=false), and kieneri is the type species of the genus, but it has long been synonymized and is now also used for a subgenus of fishes (name established 1984)! I think that Kieneria was not available for, and therefore should never have been proposed for the fishes, but if it is resurrected for kieneri plus the towhees would require a published note to that effect. Can anyone advise? In short, I don’t think we can resurrect Pyrgisoma for the grouping kieneri + brown towhees. Obviously a name is needed and I am against making everything Aimophila, which would just obscure relationships of these disparate species. I think this will need further research and another proposal.

NO to merging the brown ones into the same genus as kieneri to the exclusion of other Melozone. I am not familiar with these species, but as study skins, one can see why they have been placed in the same genus and why biarcuatum has been treated as conspecific with kieneri; if any of the three seems to stand out, it would be leucotis (at least from superficial inspection of skins). Howell and Webb (1995) do not note anything suspicious about kieneri as a member of Melozone (note that they often made such taxonomic comments in other groups), nor can I extract anything from their accounts that would hint at why kieneri might be odd. There is an additional problem with the nomenclature. DaCosta et al. stated that kieneri is the type species for Pyrgisoma, but Hellmayr’s (1938) synonymy indicates that the type species is biarcuatumKieneria Bonaparte, 1855, is available, however, for kieneri. Merging the brown towhees into Kieneria and leaving the other Melozone in that genus is a fairly radical change. Including all the brown towhees in Melozone would be a better option, but the genetic data suggest that a broad Melozone would be paraphyletic with respect to three species of Aimophila. Overall, I worry about total reliance on an mtDNA gene tree to the exclusion of any other evidence. I recommend that we take a conservative approach until additional data are available. Unfortunately, that would leave the brown towhees orphaned without a genus.

2009-A-11c: Reposition Atlapetes, Melozone biarcuatum, M. leucotis, Aimophila notosticta, A. ruficeps, A. rufescens

YES. 6 without comment.

PARTIAL. The mtDNA data from DaCosta et al. (2009) support moving Atlapetes to the start of “true” Pipilo. I think within Pipilo, we should retain the current sequence (see comments above). Beyond that, I think we need to resolve the situation with Melozone and the brown towhees before we make further changes in sequence. So for now, I vote to just move Atlapetes.

YES. I agree that we should leave the sequence of Piplio (sensu strictu) alone. The rest looks okay (the generic names will depend on how we vote for 11a and 11b).

YES. See comments on 2009-A-11a.

YES. I don’t think that the aforementioned nomenclatural problem affects this.

YES (except keep kieneri in Melozone for now).

2009-A-12a: Split Aimophila into three genera

YES. 6 without comment.

YES, but see comments on 2009-A-12b.

YES. I don’t think that more loci are going to change the basic premise that our current Aimophila contains three very disparate taxa. 

YES. See comments under 2009-A-11.

YES. An independent, unpublished analysis of a large data set that includes 4 mtDNA and 3 nDNA genes for all species of Aimophila plus related taxa shows the same 3 groupings of “Aimophila” as in DaCosta et al. (2009). I vote yes for retaining Aimophila for A. rufescens, A. ruficauda, and A. notisticta, and for placing A. cassinii, A. aestivalis, A. botteri, A. mysticalis, A. humeralis, A. ruficauda, A. carpalis, and A. sumichrasti into Peucaea.

YES. Finally, some data to resolve this problem “genus.”

2009-A-12b: Merge A. quinquestriata into Amphispiza See Addendum, Proposal 2009-E-3

YES. 4 without comment.

NO to merge with Amphispiza and YES to merge with Amphispizopsis. If the generic name Amphispizopsis is available for quinquestriata, then this is the best course (and would produce the most unpronounceable name in all biology!)

YES. See comments under 2009-A-11.

NO. To be consistent it looks like Calamospiza would also have to be included, and that genus would have priority. But none of these are that close, so I would prefer to see quinquestriata in its own genus. Amphispizopsis Wolters 1980 was established for quinquestriatahumeralis, and mystacalis (and we now see that the latter two are only distantly related to the former), but quinquestriata was the type species of the new genus, judging by the fact that the other two were placed in a separate but unnamed subgenus by Wolters, while quinquestriata was the sole member of his subgenus Amphispizopsis.

NO. I think I favor the treatment suggested by a previous committee member of using Amphispizopsis instead of Aimophila or Amphispiza. I should note that I have not independently confirmed that Amphispizopsis is a valid name for quinquestriata. I am concerned that quinquestriata was lumped into Amphispiza in the 6th edition of the checklist, and removed for the 7th edition. Lumping it back into Amphispiza for the 8th edition does not strike me as the best choice.

YES, though I’m not happy with it. From one perspective, the “historic shuffling” that DaCosta et al. (2009) mention respecting quinquestriata would just be taking another shuffling step under this proposal. Without Amphispiza belli in here it is not clear to me where the generic limits should be drawn. Yet keeping it in Aimophila is impossible. Phenotypically it does not seem sufficiently different from belli to warrant a monotypic genus. So I think accepting this proposal is the “best of a bad job” that may need to be revisited when the generic limits in this group (with Calamospiza) are determined (including nuclear loci).

NO. My main objection to proposal 2009-A-12 is the placement of Aimophila quinquestriata back into Amphispiza. What genus Five-striped Sparrow is has long vexed ornithologists (Phillips, Storer, Wolf, Patten, etc.) and it has been shuffled about a good bit. I finally was fairly happy when it got placed into Aimophila. Now we are told that it’s really an Amphispiza again on the basis of mtDNA. I have spent time with this species nearly annually for nearly 40 years. They are rather large, long and round tailed, big billed and secretive (except when males are singing) and remind me of other Aimophila, especially the tropical Aimophila (e.g. A. humeralis) which I’ve seen multiple times in Mexico. The Amphispiza are small and delicate. One is unbelievably accommodating often foraging feet away from observers (A. bilineata). The other (A. belli) is often hard to approach, the birds running away with their tails in the air. I’ve often wondered how closely related A. bilineata and A. belli are, but have never felt that Five-striped Sparrow belonged with those two. The current members of Amphispiza give songs and call notes that don’t even remotely suggest Five-striped Sparrow. Both existing Amphispiza have a heavily  streaked juvenal plumage and I note others have noted that the juvenal plumage of Five-striped is unstreaked. And I’m puzzled that A. belli tissue wasn’t sampled in the current study. Surely MVZ Berkeley has tissues from many individuals. Wouldn’t having tissues sampled from both existing Amphispiza along with the putative third Amphispiza reveal a clearer picture? I also note that Oriturus superciliosus along with Torreornis inexpectata and Xenospiza baileyi were unsampled. Factoring the remaining species into the equation might change the proposed genetic relationships. To my eye O. superciliosus is rather Aimophila like and certainly looks like A. ruficauda. Structurally and behaviorally T. inexpectata is also Aimophila like.

So what to do in regards to Five-striped Sparrow? One option would be moving it in with the rest of the Aimophila that will be assigned into the new genus Peucaea including the strikingly patterned tropical species like A. humeralis. Not ideal perhaps, but even DaCosta et al. (2009) said that this new genus isn’t “strongly supported across all analyses, our best estimate of phylogeny (Fig. 2), indicates that these two groups form a clade. For taxonomic clarity, and until the evidence suggests otherwise, all members of this assemblage would be best be considered constituents of a single genus.” I’d slightly rephrase this and add in A. quinquestriata too until additional genetic studies, including missing pertinent species not sampled, are undertaken. Another option is to establish a monotypic genus for A. quinquestriata and that’s Amphispizopsis. This genus is mentioned in footnotes in Sibley and Monroe (1990; see page 723) and the genus was proposed by Wolters in 1980 (Die Vogelgarten der Erde. Eine systematische List emit Verbreitungsangaben sowie deutschen und englischen Namen. 5.  Lieferung-Bogen 21-25. Paul Parey, Hamburg & Berlin:  329). We currently (for how long?) have other monotypic sparrow genre including Pooecetes, Chondestes, and Calamospiza to name a few. Why not another that has not neatly fit in with an existing genus to date? 

DaCosta et al. (2009) conclude with the words that “the results of this study affirm that phylogeny reconstructions based on morphological and behavioral characters should be interpreted with caution.” But perhaps also valid is that wholesale taxonomic reorganization based solely on a single genetic mtDNA study and not behavior, structure or vocalizations (song and call notes) should also be interpreted with caution.

NO. This is a tough one. DaCosta et al. (2009) show a clade that is only moderately supported (72% bootstrap) with mtDNA data, consisting of Amphispiza bilineata A. quinquestriata (90% bootstrap), Calamospiza, and Spizella. As others have pointed out, the authors did not include A. belli in their study. An independent, unpublished analysis of a large data set that includes 4 mtDNA and 3 nDNA genes for all species of Aimophila plus related taxa – including both species of Amphispiza – show a similar clade that includes A. bilineata, A. quinquestriata, Spizella, and Chondestes. Overall, this clade has very strong support with both mtDNA, nDNA, and combined data (ML bootstrap 94-97%, Bayesian posterior probabilities of 1.0). Thus, A. quinquestriata is clearly not an Aimophila and needs to be placed in a different genus. Likewise, A. belli is not closely related to A. bilineata and belongs in a different clade. However, there is a long branch separating quinquestriata from bilineata. Given the molecular data as well as other differences, I do not favor merging A. quinquestriata into Aimphispiza. However, I do favor the suggestion to use Amphispizopsis for quinquestriata.

2009-A-13: Change spelling of Acanthidops bairdii to Acanthidops bairdi

YES. 9 without comment.

YES, but I wish someone had fixed this mistake in 1971.

YES. This is a curious one. I always thought that the 1-i vs. the 2-i thing was a Latin grammatical thing, not a matter of priority.

2009-A-14: Change spelling of Vireo swainsonii to Vireo swainsoni

YES. 9 without comment.

YES. I must admit that the way the titling of the motion is set up could lead one to conclude that we had already split the Warbling Vireos, and at least one who checked the motions on the web was puzzled. While many would celebrate the split, and the evidence (studies done in Alberta showing almost no interbreeding) presented in Portland in the summer of 2008 at the AOU meeting) was compelling I rather dread the thought of separating birds in the field that aren’t singing – size isn’t the only thing that matters!

YES, but again I wish someone had straightened this out a century ago.

2009-A-15: Change English group name of Cardinalidae

YES. 6 without comment.

YES. Good suggestion. Putting “Grosbeaks” in the family name hardly establishes clarity as there are representatives in North America, called “Grosbeaks” from two families: CARDINALIDAE and FRINGILLIDAE.

YES to the change but NO to “Cardinals and Allies” because we have only 1 “Cardinal” (the other is in S. America), and the Thraupidae actually has more species called “Cardinal” (ParoariaGubernatrix). Yes, our beloved cardinal is the type species for the type genus of the family, but hardly representative of this heterogeneous group. “Cardinals and Allies” is not an ideal name because there are 7 species in 2 genera in South America called Something Cardinal that are not Cardinalines (vs. only 2 true cardinalines). Yes, those are all derived from superficial similarities to our Cardinalis cardinalis, the “real” cardinal in anyone’s view.  Nonetheless, if we are going to change, this needs some consideration. I suggest “Cardinalines” as a simpler, less committal name; there isn’t a single “unique” English last name in the family, other than Dickcissel, so rather than try to force one into headliner status, maybe we just ought to retreat to derivation of the family name.

YES. Note that some of our “grosbeaks” are not cardinals, so Cardinals & Grosbeaks would be misleading. As well (although you don’t mention it), buntings are of two sorts, some Cardinals, and some emberizids. I agree with the suggestion of Cardinalines….only one “Cardinal” that is actually in this group.

YES, but I prefer the suggestion of “Cardinalines”

YES, but I agree that Cardinalines is much better than Cardinals and Allies, since we only have one of the several “cardinals” in our area.