2014-C-1: Add Waved Albatross Phoebastria irrorata to the main list

YES. 3 without comment.

YES. Nice photograph.

YES. Very long straw yellow bill, white head, pale brown nape, and brown back together are distinctive. Not an unexpected stray from waters around the Galapagos Islands.

YES. No reason for doubt.

YES. Tangible evidence archived, identification clear, and no questions on origin.

YES. Photograph looks clear.

2014-C-2: Change the type locality of Craveri’s Murrelet

YES. 3 without comment.

YES. Good sleuthing to present a most accurate and acceptable type locality.

YES. I think this is the best solution to the problem. Although several specimens are known from Isla Rasa (the correct name is “Rasa”, meaning “flat”), no adequate breeding sites are found there.

YES. Isla Partida Norte seems almost certainly correct, and the indication that it is the probable locality is appropriately cautious.

YES. Nice to get this cleared up, at last.

YES. Nice work.

2014-C-3: Adopt a new classification for the Quail-Doves (Columbidae)

YES. 4 without comment.

NO. The results of Johnson and Weckstein (2011) is surprising given plumage and patterns in the group. Geotrygon veraguensis is not noticeably different in pattern from the saphirina and purpurata. It’s hard for me to believe that it an outgroup for all Leptotila and not more closely related to saphirina and purpurata or other Geotrygon (s.l.) No taxa from the Caribbean were sampled, which includes the real plumage/pattern outliers like versicolor and caniceps, and also the somewhat different chrysia and mystacea. Of course, the real outlier is Staroenas, which fits in here somewhere, but was not sampled. I can live with Geotrygon being polyphyletic, but since the results are counter to what I would expect, I would like to a better sampled phylogeny with N’s greater than one.

YES. I agree about fuller representation being desirable, but note that chrysia and mystacea were in fact included in Banks et al. (http://fieldmuseum.org/sites/default/files/Banksetal2013Zootaxa.pdf). Although surprising and counterintuitive, we have come to expect surprises due to convergent evolution in morphology, and this seems a good basis for a revised classification that may need further tinkering later when more taxa are sampled.

YES. The new classification and linear sequence reflects the new phylogenetic hypothesis based on DNA sequence data.

YES. I enjoyed seeing the Banks et al. 2013 Zootaxa paper when it appeared.

2014-C-4: Revise the taxonomy and linear sequence for species of Sporophila and Oryzoborus: (a) merge Oryzoborus into Sporophila; (b) change the linear sequence of species of Sporophila (and Oryzoborus) (SACC #604, SACC #605)

YES (both parts). 5 without comment.

YES (both parts). That Sporophila (sl) is polyphyletic is not surprising, given the plumage patterns of Oryzoborus and Dolospingus, and the plasticity of bill shape in these seedeaters. The resulting taxonomy and sequence make sense.

YES (both parts). However, recognition of 4 genera (not presented as an alternative) might be a better solution.

YES (both parts). The SACC versions of both have been unanimously approved.

2014-C-5: Split Ninox japonica from Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata and adopt the English name Northern Boobook

YES. 4 without comment.

YES. All three taxa are available on Xeno-canto. Ninox scutulata (mainland SE Asia, Borneo) is very different than the other two. Ninox randii (Philippines) and japonica are more similar but really quite different. This seems to be a needed move given the different vocalizations. The English name is a great improvement as well.

YES. Dickinson & Remsen (2013) followed King (2002), and so NACC would not be breaking any new ground but rather following a published study already adopted by a global classification scheme (species limits and English name).

YES. Good work on this proposal.

MIXED. YES on the split, NO on the English name. Ninox japonica is unquestionably vocally very different from N. cutulata—the jury is out on further splits within japonica, but none appear very solid on vocal grounds. Philippines N. randi is also vocally moderately different from japonica (and much more so from scutulata; there are several additional recordings of randi on avocet.zoology.msu.edu). Note however that none of these taxa are nearly as morphologically distinctive from one another as is the Andamans form, Hume’s Hawk-owl N. obscura (not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal or included in any DNA study), which despite its multiple structural and plumage differences sounds very much like N. scutulata.

I object to the name “boobook” as it is contrived and is only onomatopoeic for a few of the species to which it is now often applied. In fact, of 3 new species of Ninox and 5 other species into which Philippine Hawk-owl N. philippensis sensu latu is split largely based on vocalizations, none sound remotely like “boobook” except in a few transitional note types of a couple of taxa. Members of many other owl genera could just as well be described onomatopoeically by the two-syllable approximation “boobook”. “Boobook” is also not normally used for most of the Australian species (except N. novaeseelandiae) (but, to be fair, neither is “hawk-owl”). Further, its pronunciation is not obvious and personally I think it just sounds and looks dumb. Also note that for this genus IOC uses four different group/species names: owl, hawk-owl, boobook, and Morepork.

The name Ninox itself is a portmanteau of Niso (meaning sparrowhawk) and Noctua (a synonym of Athene), because its describer Hodgson (1837: http://books.google.com/books?id=5BgYAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA300&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false) perceived it to have, as he termed it, bill, disc, conch, and foot characters as in Noctua and general contour, especially plumage character, to be falconidine. The hunter (shikaree) who brought Hodgson a specimen asked him whether it was a hawk or owl! In any case, the term hawk-owl, which has been in use for many years, is essentially a translation of the scientific name.

We are of course stuck with “scops” and “screech” for many species that don’t say anything of the sort, but these names have a long history behind them, unlike “boobook”. “Hawk-owl” is still familiar as a common name for this group and is far from obsolete, nor is it anywhere near universally adopted in the Old World. I don’t see our adoption of “boobook” for the one species that makes it to our region as helping to resolve this situation in any way.  I also have no objection to the modifier “Northern” for Surnia, which of course is very much a northern species and so the name, which is already widely familiar, is actually helpful.

2014-C-6: Add Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita to the main list

YES. 5 without comment.

YES. I will leave it up to the experts to ID this Phylloscopus. Lehman, and Zimmer (2013) present ample evidence to include this on the main list.

YES. Published photo and identification corroborated independently by experts on the genus.

YES. The many excellent photos (http://nab.aba.org/i/116996/53) of this individual are indicative of Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus [collybitatristis and no other. It isn’t Willow Warbler, and the other Asian taxon that looks most like it is Mountain Chiffchaff P. sindianus, which would be a real long shot for vagrancy to Alaska, and differs in having the white supercilium broad in front (unlike the Alaska bird). Note that tristis is sometimes considered a separate species, given its quite different vocalizations from P. collybita, and (usually) morphological distinctiveness. We therefore certainly should mention the form in our account.

2014-C-7: Change the English name of Lonchura punctulata from Nutmeg Mannikin to Scaly-breasted Munia

YES. 5 without comment.

YES. No reason to keep Nutmeg Mannakin, given that is hardly in use anymore. Scaly-breasted Munia is not only widely used, it will also correspond better with other Lonchura in the AOU area.

YES. This is in concordance with regional authorities.

YES. I agree for the multiple reasons outlined in the proposal, including that our use of Nutmeg Mannikin likely an oversight.  And a big thanks to Michael Retter for straightening this out.

2014-C-8: Split the Shy Albatross Thalassarche cauta into two or three species: (a) split cauta/steadi from salvini/eremita; (SACC #155) (b) split salvini from eremita (SACC #255)

YES (both parts). 3 without comment.

YES (both parts), per comments for SACC proposals.

YES (both parts). To me the most telling feature in treating these taxa is that they all breed in a fairly small area and maintain morphological and genetic differentiation, and yet show potential for long distance dispersal to new breeding grounds. Even though the sample size for splitting salvini and eremita is tiny, the proximity of their breeding ranges probably means that these event have happened lots of times in the past, yet they remain morphological and genetic differentiated. As these taxa are vagrants to our area, I would need compelling evidence to not follow the SACC or other bodies.

ABSTAIN. If a tie-breaker is needed I may weigh in.

MIXED. YES to (a), NO to (b). The first split seems more or less straightforward. However, splitting salvini from eremita just has too little evidence supporting a change in the status quo in my view.

MIXED. YES to (a), NO to (b). To me the evidence for species limits in the latter seems not quite there yet.

2014-C-9: Split Toxostoma palmeri from Curve-billed Thrasher T. curvirostre

NO. 1 without comment.

NO. The two groups show some interesting differences, but I am still not convinced that they are at the level of full species. I think more data are needed on gene flow (nDNA) and the contact zone before splitting these taxa. Data on vocalizations would also be helpful.

NO. Although there is some evidence that palmeri and curvirostre are reproductively isolated, I do not think that the proposal presents a complete enough picture to draw that conclusion. A bit more field and genetic work, especially in the area of potential hybridization, and the deal could be sealed. It is unfortunate that the proposal does not mention vocalizations at all. Are there vocal differences? As far as the out of range individuals used in Rojas-Soto et al. 2007 representing post-natal dispersal, that should be easily confirmed. Vouchers anyone? The genetic samples used in Zink, R. M. and R. C. Blackwell-Rago. 2000 and Rojas-Soto et al. 2007 are nowhere near the area of potential hybridization. Reciprocal monophyly thus is unexpected even if hybridization is rampant. The map in Rojas-Soto et al. 2007 shows that palmeri and curvirostre have a much larger area of potential contact than the proposal indicates. They also approach one another in Nayarit, according to the map in Rojas-Soto et al. 2007.

YES. The concordance among genetics, ecology, and morphology warrants the recognition of the two forms (palmeri and curvirostre) as species. The very few hybrids known may just represent a narrow hybrid zone and only occasional interbreeding. Of course, further research is needed on this issue and on the status of the southern populations.

NO (reluctantly). I believe these are probably two separate species, but there are too many unanswered questions in this proposal, points of confusion, and missed opportunities in the papers cited.  For example, why are the putative vocal differences cited only as coming from an anonymous reviewer of the proposal? A follow-up project could (and hopefully will) readily address these issues.

NO. This split may eventually be justified, but right now the data is insufficient to document this split.

NO. I appreciate the addition of trying to suss out what is occurring at the zone of contact, but in fact the existing genetic data are inadequate to address the critical question of how much gene flow is occurring there. Morphological data do suggest that it may be low enough to warrant full species status, but until someone looks at this more rigorously, with decent sample sizes and nuclear DNA, the reasonable approach is to not make a change.

NO. This is an interesting situation that definitely deserves further study. Given that the contact zone is in a highly accessible region and stated to be 200 km in length, I wonder why it has not been studied more extensively. Until we know the true nature of gene flow, however, there is insufficient evidence for species rank under the BSC. The genetic data, important as they are for establishing the two historical groups, by themselves are insufficient for species rank: as noted in the proposal, the third group (in southern Mexico) revealed by the genetic data is morphologically and vocally undiagnosable (thus not warranting a formal taxon name), but would also require species rank if going strictly by the genetic data. Further, the geographic sampling in Rojas-Soto et al. (2007; Fig. 1) and Zink & Blackwell-Rago (2000) is inadequate for establishing reciprocal monophyly because the palmeri group is represented by only three localities, the closest of which is in southwestern Arizona roughly 500 km (!) from the potential contact zone; also, an individual from New Mexico (“New Mexico 53”) appears in the curvirostre group (Rojas-Soto et al. 2007; Fig. 2) and is apparently the individual that accounts for inclusion of New Mexico in the palmeri clade in the text; however, in Figure 1 the New Mexico localities are shown exclusively in the curvirostre clade, so I am confused as to what is really going on.  Given that the authors are certainly aware of the critical nature of geographic sampling, I suspect that there must be some sort of mistake in the Figure. That there is no evidence of any structure within the three locality samples of palmeri, which are fairly far apart and include Isla Tiburón, suggests that additional geographic sampling may only yield more of the same. Nonetheless, for a change in species limits, the sampling has to be much more rigorous than this. Also, in Zink & Blackwell-Rago (2000), the two New Mexico localities plotted in their Fig. 1 seem clearly in the curvirostre clade and a long way from the potential contact zone. If the geographic sampling had been designed in such a way as to assess gene flow, i.e. extensive sampling near the contact zone, and still showed reciprocal monophyly, then this would be strong evidence for absence of gene flow between two parapatric species in my opinion, but as is, these data are at best suggestive.

The plumage data indicate that the two groups deserve at least subspecies rank. If vocal differences exist, however, they require rigorous documentation, and playback experiments would be highly desirable.

The extensive studies by Rojas-Soto indicate that none of the other described subspecies meet the criteria required for recognition as named taxa, so this needs to be examined in detail and incorporated into the eventual subspecies accounts drafts.