2019-B-1: Transfer Orinoco Goose Neochen jubata to Oressochen

YES, with reservations. This could go either way, but I think we should follow SACC.

YES. The character sampling in the molecular tree is poor and so is the taxonomic sampling. I am voting yes to provide consistency with SACC.

YES, reluctantly. The molecular evidence is weak, and the other reasons given in the proposal are interesting but mostly anectodal. We normally do not use unpublished evidence in making decisions. However, the published morphological data set of Livezey set provides some additional evidence that Chloephaga melanoptera is different from other members of its genus. This is primarily a South American issue, and I think it’s important to follow the SACC when possible. Therefore, I’ll go along with this change for now – but would encourage more work on this group.

YES. But almost entirely based on allowing the SACC to have priority on making this call about a South American species. The actual evidence is rather weak.

YES. While I recognize that the genetic basis for this change is not particularly impressive, the change is consistent with the data out there, and is supported by other morphological data. Given that jubata is accidental in our area, it seems to me that us maintaining Neochen while SACC has changed the treatment is not the appropriate way to go. 

NO. 1 without comment.

NO. The proposal convinces me that we should not endorse this, regardless of conflict with SACC and subsequent classifications.

NO. Based on current evidence, I think this move would be premature. The molecular dataset is weak, and a definitive dataset is in development. The morphological evidence suggests a change will be warranted, but Livezy’s solution may turn out to be preferable. The political aspects of this do not sway me.

NO. Although I dislike going against the SACC on a species that is accidental in our Area, I think they really made a bad move. It seems so much better to keep Orinoco Goose in Neochen at this point. There is little in plumage pattern to suspect that Andean and Orinoco are sister taxa. Livezy did not find anything skeletally that would indicate this relationship. The genetics is a small snippet of mtDNA and it would not take much to refute this relationship. Biogeographically, I think more southern Andean taxa have sister taxa in the southern Cone than in the Amazonian lowlands. And keeping jubata in Neochen promotes stability until the weight of evidence forces us to make the change.

2019-B-2: Recognize the parulid genus Leiothlypis

YES. 2 without comment.

YES. This change is supported by the data and is consistent with other currently recognized treatments.

YES, for reasons outlined when this was brought up the first time, as outlined in SACC 453x, and as outlined in the proposal.

YES. To maintain stability, I’m not in favor of reassigning genera unless there is a new toplogy that requires a name change. However, the arguments presented here in terms of consistency across Parulidae and consistency with SACC and Clements convince me to vote yes.

YES. I support this and yes could have been done nearly a decade ago, but better now than ever. What came down then with Oporornis as I recall was to merge all four species within Geothlypis. There were many things quite different about Oporornis agilis from the other species including behavior and flight calls and it wasn’t as well supported genetically (what was Semper’s Warbler close genetically?). When one looks at Geothlypis oporornis and Geothylypis tolmei one sees the connection with other Geothlypis, the former species has hybridized with Geothlypis trichas. But what about Kentucky Warbler (Geothlypis formosa). I don’t know the flight call, but other vocalizations and especially behavior don’t seem very Geothlypis to me.

YES. I voted for this when we originally considered the issue. Additional data since then just further emphasize that splitting Leiothlypis makes sense.

NO (weakly). I am right on the fence on this. I do appreciate the phenotypic + molecular evidence coupling here, but I think we are oversplitting in this area of Parulidae and not using subgenera as much as we probably need to to make genera roughly equivalent across Aves. In going back to our long thread on this issue in 2011, I see that I also thought then that we needed to do better with genus-level delimitation overall on relationships + morphology and make more use of subgenera. I have not looked in detail at genetic genus-node depths among families and orders, but still I think we’re oversplitting here.

NO. It is too bad we made moved all those species to Oreothylpis before Lovette et al. (2010) was published, or that we did not act on this when we first had the chance (the 2010-B-10 proposal). Although the degree to which guttaralis/superciliaris are separate from other species we have in Oreothylpis is similar to other taxa that we consider genera in the Parulidae, maintaining all in Oreothylpis still maintains a monophyletic taxonomy. We had a chance (in 2010) to change this and didn’t pursue it.  I’d rather keep it as is than increase instability in our nomenclature by making micro-adjustments every couple of years.

2019-B-3: Change the linear sequence of the Hirundinidae

YES. 2 without comment.

YES, although it would be nice to have a consistent sequence with the SACC.

YES. Where is Progne subis? Presumably it should go between dominicensis and cryptoleuca.

YES. This mostly seems straightforward, but in Progne,  P. sinaloae should follow P. tapera not precede it.

YES. With the caveat that because so much of the signal in this dataset is mtDNA we’re likely to see some of these relationships change with the addition of more nuclear DNA (a la the recent example in Motacilla, probably though hybridization). This change takes us a long way toward being right, though.

YES, unless someone is currently working on this with a more modern methods and analyses. Like the situation with Oreothlypis, I would hate to make the change and then have someone come along right after and publish a new phylogeny that necessitates a new sequence.

YES. But the sequence within Progne requires further explanation because of the lack of resolution in that genus in Fig. 2. In particular, the position of unsampled sinaloae needs explanation, and omitted subis should follow tapera.

NO. I can’t abide by a linear sequence within Progne that places Brown-chested Martin ( P. tapera) squarely between P. dominicensis, P. sinaloae, and P. cryptoleuca without further evidence and discussion. Differences of the first two are negligible and all three are treated as a single polytypic species by some (e.g. Turner and Rose 1989, Swallows and Martins, an Identification Guide, Houghton Mifflin Company).  The rest looks OK.

2019-B-4: Make changes to the English names of hummingbirds in the genus Lampornis: (a) Use mountain-gem for all species of Lampornis. (b) Delete the hyphen in mountain-gem

(a) YES. Mountaingem, whatever the spelling, is a great name for members of this genus. Although I know that probably all American birders grew up with “Blue-throated Hummingbird” I think they can easily adapt to Blue-throated Mountaingem. (b) YES. As I remember it, we discussed or voted on this change before, and it was brought up that having the “ing” string in the name, when it is not denoting a gernund, would be confusing. However,  I don’t stumble at all when looking at “mountaingem.”

(a) YES. Although we generally prefer to retain consistency in English names, this is an easy change that makes sense for reasons given in the well-written proposal – including unifying all Lampornis under that name. (b) YES. I prefer “mountaingem” over “mountain-gem” and the proposal gives good rationale for this change.

(a) YES. But let’s not go crazy trying to have one-to-one correlations between genus and English names. (b) YES.

(a) YES. (b) YES. I’m very happy with using Mountaingem, so yes to the English name change for both Blue-throated and Amethyst-throated.  The wider birding community won’t object in my opinion, and overall they will appreciate learning the connection with the other related Neotropical species.

(a) YES. In general I am hesitant to make a change of this type, overturning a longstanding English name to “fix” it. I am voting for this because hummingbird is really a pretty information-free English name, it gives a solid distinctive name to a well defined clade, and it appears Mountain-gems are not a monophyletic unit without this change. Given that ordinarily a hyphenated group name would indicate a monophyletic unit, this change would do away with that issue. (b) YES. Mountain-gem is a situation where the conflict is between two different rules in creating English names, aiding in the pronunciation by including a hyphen versus not setting apart with a hyphen a group name that isn’t a bird name or references a group the bird doesn’t belong to. Although I recognize that the “ing” in Mountaingem could be considered confusing. I find it hard to imagine that somebody would seriously think that the correct pronunciation would be Mountaing em, instead of Mountaingem. There is another gem in hummingbird Horned Sungem. Seems more likely that somebody would consider Sung em as a pronunciation that Mountain gem. Sung is at least an English word.

(a) YES. In this case it really does provide a nice, neat solution of a common name restricted to a monophyletic group. (b) NO. Without the hyphen it is a mouthful and I can see people mispronouncing it as “mountaing-em.” (This comes after hearing someone pronounce Sabrewing as “sa-brewing.”) Where hyphens are useful I prefer to retain them.

a) YES, but with great reluctance to meddle with long-standing North American bird names. Blue-throated Hummingbird has been known by that name for more than 100 years, and thus “Blue-throated Mountain-gem” is going to be regarded by many as heresy. Nonetheless, for all the excellent points made in the proposal, I’m taking the plunge. An additional minor point is that we found the White-bellied Mountain-gem (L. leucurus) to be sister to all other species in the genus (albeit with substandard support), and so the current group with the English name “Mountain-gem” is not monophyletic and thus slightly misleading. (b) NO. There is an excellent reason for the hyphen in Mountain-gem. “Mountaingem” is a visual disaster, with the reader drawn to the “ing” as a common syllabic construction and without the hyphen, there is no guidance on pronunciation. In fact, Parkes (1978), which we follow on such matters, dealt with such cases in I.2 [Exceptions to treated names as unhyphenated single words, e.g. hummingbird]: “…An unhyphenated word would be excessively long (usually four syllables or more), or clumsy, or imply an incorrect pronunciation. EXAMPLES: Plains-wanderer, not Plainswanderer; Chuckswill’s-widow, not Chuckwill’swidow; Foliage-gleaner, not Foliagegleaner; Fire- wood-gatherer, not Firewoodgatherer; False-sunbird, not Falsesunbird; Silky-flycatcher, not Silkyflycatcher; Mudnest- builder, not Mudnestbuilder.” The name “Mountaingem” is not only “clumsy” (to put it mildly) but also implies an incorrect pronunciation.  This is the reason why it has had its hyphen since inception, and I am surprised that Gill-Donsker decided that removing it represented progress. The statement in the proposal “Mountaingem reads perfectly fine, with no confusion in spelling or pronunciation” is clearly incorrect in my opinion.

(a) NO. The various lines of reasoning are all valid, but this is an ‘improve the English name’ situation and we have a policy of not going down that path. (b) YES. Because the no-hyphen version is already in usage on some lists.

(a) NO. Although I appreciate the arguments laid out in this proposal, I think it’s important to maintain stability as much as possible with English names. There are many other English bird names that don’t match monophyletic groups. (b) NO. Again, to maintain stability.

2019-B-5: Split Hwamei Garrulax canorus into two species, recognizing G. taewanus

YES. They have diverged considerably morphologically, vocally, and genetically in isolation, and it was only the anthropogenic reintroduction of canorus that has led to hybridization.

YES. Differences in plumage and song. Reciprocal monophyly in mtDNA. Natural allopatry, but now hybridization where canorus has been introduced on Taiwan. This one could go either way but the tendency by other authorities more relevant to this area of the world seems to be to split these at the species level.

NO. The fact that the two forms apparently hybridize freely on Taiwan makes it hard to think about splitting these forms unless there is such a strong morphological, vocal and genetic distinctiveness that you couldn’t overlook. I don’t see that in this data set, but will acknowledge that morphologically they are pretty distinctive. Given that the relevant population for us would not change name regardless of our decision here, I think there is no urgency to make a change, given weak support that these are distinct biological species.

NO. Due to ongoing hybridization, these two do not meet the threshold of biological species as defined by the AOS.

NO. These seem to be subspecies to me. While the secondary contact appears to be mediated by humans, this observation suggests they are not good biological species: “when the two taxa overlap geographically, they seem to hybridize freely and produce fertile offspring capable of interbreeding with each other and either parental form.” Well written proposal.

NO. The unnatural experiment of translocation of the mainland form to Taiwan shows that these two have not diverged to the level of species. That DFA of songs produces only a 75% correct categorization indicates that the differences are more like dialects than species-level differences. That the two are “reciprocally monophyletic” is based on a small N of individuals, and as always the case in such unqualified statements, one additional sample away from producing the opposite result. I assume no one takes the Tobias et al. “7 point system” seriously; in fact, this example shows that it is indeed flawed: the two taxa may differ by “8 points,” but this clearly makes no difference to the actual birds.

NO. The evidence to date shows that these two taxa are not reproductively isolated. They respond to each other’s song (with only 75% of songs correctly categorized by taxon), and hybridize extensively if given the opportunity. The microsatellite data revealed a relatively high percentage (~20%) of hybrids. They are best treated as subspecies for now.

NO. The proposal clearly indicates a lack of reproductive isolation between canorus and taewanus. The phenotypic/vocal differences are clearly insufficient to maintain these as separate species in the BSC.

NO. Although in a sense an artificial experiment they don’t meet the biological species concept of a separate species.

2019-B-6: Split Socorro Parakeet Psittacara brevipes from P. holochlorus

YES. 2 without comment.

YES. The evidence is not overwhelming (it would be nice to have more molecular data other than mtDNA, with all taxa included, and a quantitative analysis of vocal differences) but the sum of available evidence leans me toward a split.

YES. Phylogenetic evidence indicates that P. brevipes is not part of P. holochlorus.

YES. I think the accumulated morphological, vocal and genetic evidence are sufficient to split brevipes as a distinct species.

YES. Though I am close on this. I am not swayed much by the mtDNA data, but the morphological and vocal data are all corroborative.

YES. And yes to Socorro Parakeet for the English name. The vocalization differences are especially compelling. Also yes to retaining Green Parakeet for the other taxa.

YES. The accumulated weight of the admittedly weakly quantified evidence puts burden-of-proof, in my opinion, on treatment of these two as conspecific.

NO, tentatively. These parakeets (like the P. mitrata group) are difficult, and species boundaries are probably not easy to demarcate. Given the incredible within-species/individual variation, vocalizations are difficult to assess. I think the mtDNA data is preliminary and would prefer more complete analyses with all taxa in the group.

2019-B-7: Merge the storm-petrel genus Oceanodroma into Hydrobates

YES. It also looks like someone should propose a rearrangement of the linear sequence.

YES. Monophyly and priority indicate this is warranted.

YES. The available molecular evidence and the priority of Hydrobates over Oceanodroma necessitate this change.

YES. Transfer is necessary to maintain a monophyletic Hydrobates.

YES. Based on the data, a change needs to be made. A 2 genus arrangement  consistent with the tree would be melania on down in Hydrobates and keeping the rest in Oceanodroma, but I’m not sure I see the benefit of that treatment.

YES. Required if recent trees are correct (and they probably are). Too bad the priority was not for Oceanodroma over Hydrobates.

YES. The phylogeny requires that we either merge all Oceanodroma into Hydrobates or put furcata + melania, markhami, microsome, tethys, into Hydrobates and keep others in Oceanodroma. I prefer the former, given the morphological uniformity in the clade. Hydrobates is masculine, so furcata and probably others (melania, homochroas, microsoma ?) would become masculine.

NO. Not until additional work is done with these northern species to clarify relationships.

NO. The original paper has a figure not presented in the proposal, which shows that regardless of resolution within clades, genetic support is strong for recognition of four clades as genera. All of these are predicted to be evolving separately since the Miocene age, i.e. older than most groups we label as genera. The importance of treating them as genera is to emphasize the morphological conservatism in this group relative to other avian lineages, and thus emphasize one of the most important features of storm-petrel evolution. One problem with this is that “markhami” is actually a melania sample, as indicated in Alvaro Jaramillo’s comments (yet another example of why double-checking ID of vouchers is important!). Thus, placement of markhami would be based on educated guesswork. Another problem is that a new genus would need to be named for monteiroi-jabejabe. However, I prefer sorting out the markhami problem than obscuring 10 my-old diversity in one broad genus; likewise, monteiroi-jabejabe could be included in Clade C, tentatively, pending further data on the deep node that joins them. For what it’s worth, Mathews named four additional genera in the group, including Loomelania, which was still used by AOU (1957).  A new proposal recognizing multiple genera would need to sort out the nomenclature carefully.

2019-B-8: Recognize family Leiothrichidae for Leiothrix and Garrulax

YES. 3 without comment.

YES. The molecular data support this change, which is also consistent with other treatments.

YES. These are not our groups so I’m willing to follow treatments by other authorities.

YES. Recent phylogenies necessitate this move. Follows other taxonomies.

YES. The babblers have long been a mess. This treatment is consistent with current treatments for this Old World complex, and I can see no compelling reason for not making the change.

YES. Whether to rank this lineage as a family or subfamily is (currently) a subjective decision, but the phenotypic heterogeneity in traditional, broadly defined Timaliidae seems excessive (by traditional, subjective standards) compared to related groups designated as families. Cibois et al.’s (2018; Fig. 2) chronogram dates the age of this lineage at ca. 15 MY (middle to early Miocene), which, using my unofficial but objective criteria on lineage age, puts in the “family” category of lineage age.

NO. I think we are oversplitting Passeriformes at the family level and that Leiothrichinae is an adequate solution for this issue. I realize that I am likely swimming against the tide on this (especially for a group that is peripheral to our geographic area), but so be it. Eventually we’re going to have to fix this.

2019-B-9: Modify the linear sequence of genera and species in the Passerellidae

YES. 4 without comment.

YES. This is a big group, and it will be a while before we have a better phylogeny. This change will get us much closer to what eventually shakes out than we are at present.

YES. The proposed new sequence may not be perfect but certainly better represents relationships in this group than our current one.

YES. I’m a little hesitant to do this until there is stronger support from both mtDNA and nuclear data, but I agree with the proposal that we should follow the best evidence we have now and maintain agreement with the SACC list until further data become available.

YES. This may not be (probably isn’t) the last in how to arrange these taxa, but our current treatment is so far off that I think this would be a big improvement. 

YES. Maybe waiting for a better resolved nuclear or combined tree would be prudent, but given what how far apart the sequence we currently use is from our current knowledge, I think we should act now, as it may be some time before better resolution is found. I think that relying on the mtDNA tree is the best way to go, given the lack of resolution in the other trees.

2019-B-10: (a) Merge Pselliophorus into Atlapetes; (b) Merge Melozone into Aimophila

(a) YES. (b) YES. Some of those nodes are weakly supported but the possibility of reciprocally mpnophyletic groupings corresponding to these existing genera seems close to zero.

(a) YES. (b) NO. 1 without comment.

(a) YES. Seems straightforward and supported by the data; (b) NO. I think we should maintain the status quo for now.

(a) YESPselliophorus is deep within Atlapetes, so this change seems straightforward. (b) NO. It seems like we don’t yet have quite the answer for the relationships within this group. I think it is premature to go all in on this clade as a single genus. One comment is that our current treatment of Melozone does not consider the ground-sparrows as monophyletic. If we really believe that, ground sparrows should lose their hyphen.

(a) YES. Needs to be done to maintain monophyletic Atlapetes. Relevant nodes have strong support. (b) NO. Relevant nodes lack strong support. With additional data, these two genera could easily be shown to be reciprocally monophyletic.

(a) YESPselliphorus is clearly embedded within Atlapetes (and acts like a brush-finch) and it is easy to change its genus. (b) NO. Another case where too many changes too quick leads to instability, and the view that our Committee has trouble getting it right. If we make the change now, then another paper comes along with the definitive but different answer, that could be three changes over the course of a decade for a bird like California Towhee.

(a) YES. This seems reasonable. (b) NO. I agree that given the uncertainties we’re better off waiting until another molecular dataset provides greater resolution.

(a) YES. Obviously justified. (b) NO. Not so obvious a solution, so I prefer to wait for better resolution.

(a) YES. Required by new phylogenetic data. The genus Pselliophorus is diagnosed from the other brushfinch genera by its long yellow feathers on the thighs; the derivation of the generic name (“bracelet-bearer”) is in reference to this character, unique within the brushfinch group. Remove those “bracelets,” and it looks like an unusually dark Atlapetes, although the unusual darkness of P. tibialis is a theme shared by several species of the Cordillera Talamanca, possibly an adaptive response to vulcanism in the region, as suggested long ago by Alan Brush and Ned Johnson for ChlorospingusPselliophorus luteoviridis is more Atlapetes-like in color, and with P. tibialis provides yet another example of the yellow-gray “off-on” pattern in sister taxa of montane 9-p oscines of the Andes and mountains of Central America. (b) NO.

2019-B-11: Separate Gray-faced Petrel Pterodroma gouldi from P. macroptera

YES. Neat background science and nice proposal.

YES. Combination of genetic and phenotypic evidence are convincing.

YES. I am leery of using mtDNA for species limits and consider that taxa can be within a species if they are not each others’ sisters in mtDNA. So this part of the evidence does nothing for me. However, the phenotypic evidence is well developed and convincing.

YES. Multiple lines of evidence support this split, as noted in the proposal.

YES. I think the numerous lines of evidence all suggest that gouldi is best treated as distinct from macroptera.

YES. The collective evidence assembled in the proposal clearly puts burden-of-proof on their treatment as conspecific.

YES. Multiple lines of evidence indicate that gouldi and macroptera should be split, including vocalizations (important in Pterodroma) and mtDNA, and somewhat in morphology. Makes sense biogeographically as well.

YES. An easy call, and I am fine with Gray-faced Petrel recognizing a widely recognized English name rather than creating a more accurate name that will just cause confusion. The North American records are supported by photos, not specimens.  Still, I believe they are adequate to establish the identification.

YES. Obviously justified. However, the name “Gray-faced” really is not ideal, given that the feathers around the bill base are whitish. Nevertheless, this name is rather deeply ingrained.