Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 337–345 | Cite as

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

  • Per G. P. Ericson
  • Storrs L. Olson
  • Martin Irestedt
  • Herculano Alvarenga
  • Jon Fjeldså
Original Article


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 



Our thanks go especially to those researchers who, for years, and often with very small economic means, have collected the specimens and tissue samples without which studies like this could not be made. N. Krabbe is thanked for comments on the manuscript. E. Endrigo kindly provided the photograph of Psilorhamphus. The following institutions provided samples that have been included in the study: Zoological Museum of Copenhagen University, Swedish Museum of Natural History, National Museum of Natural History, American Museum of Natural History and Field Museum of Natural History. The Swedish Research Council provided financial support for the laboratory work (grant no. 621–2007–5280 to PE).


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Per G. P. Ericson
    • 1
  • Storrs L. Olson
    • 2
  • Martin Irestedt
    • 3
  • Herculano Alvarenga
    • 4
  • Jon Fjeldså
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Vertebrate ZoologySwedish Museum of Natural HistoryStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Division of Birds, Department of Vertebrate ZoologySmithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural HistoryWashington, DCUSA
  3. 3.Molecular Systematics LaboratoriumSwedish Museum of Natural HistoryStockholmSweden
  4. 4.Museu de História Natural de TaubatéTaubatéBrazil
  5. 5.Zoological MuseumUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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