Original Article

Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 337-345

First online:

Circumscription of a monophyletic family for the tapaculos (Aves: Rhinocryptidae): Psiloramphus in and Melanopareia out

  • Per G. P. EricsonAffiliated withDepartment of Vertebrate Zoology, Swedish Museum of Natural History Email author 
  • , Storrs L. OlsonAffiliated withDivision of Birds, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History
  • , Martin IrestedtAffiliated withMolecular Systematics Laboratorium, Swedish Museum of Natural History
  • , Herculano AlvarengaAffiliated withMuseu de História Natural de Taubaté
  • , Jon FjeldsåAffiliated withZoological Museum, University of Copenhagen

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The tapaculos (Rhinocryptidae) are tracheophone, suboscine birds restricted to South and Central America. Most tapaculos share a number of internal and external characteristics that have been used to define the family taxonomically. The genera Melanopareia and Psiloramphus do not fully fit this pattern and have caused considerable dispute among taxonomists since they were first described. In this paper we delimit the systematic boundaries of the tapaculos and assess their generic relationships by analysis of molecular sequence data. The results show that whereas Psiloramphus is nested well within the Rhinocryptidae, Melanopareia falls far outside that clade. A new family is erected for Melanopareia.


Melanopareia Psiloramphus Rhinocryptidae Tapaculos Molecular systematics Taxonomy South America