A systematic reappraisal of the Rufous Potoo Nyctibius bracteatus (Nyctibiidae) and description of a new genus


The Rufous Potoo (Nyctibius bracteatus Gould, 1846) is the smallest member of the family Nyctibiidae, which comprises seven species endemic to the Neotropical region. Morphologically, it is highly distinct from its congeners, not only in its smaller size, but also in possessing a strange marking on its iris and having entirely rufous plumage, which is lightly vermiculated and has pronounced white spots on the wing coverts, breast, belly, flanks and undertail coverts. Molecular studies have shown extraordinarily high levels of genetic divergence amongst potoo species, and a recent genome-scale molecular phylogeny of potoo species placed N. bracteatus as sister to all other potoos with high confidence. Similarly, osteological data reveal that the species has several unique and plesiomorphic characters. Therefore, its distinctive morphology, in combination with unique behavioral traits, and its recurrent placement as the earliest branching terminal in phylogenetic treatments of the family, convinced us to erect a new genus for the species, Phyllaemulor.


Eine systematische Neubewertung des Tropfentagschläfers Nyctibius bracteatus (Nyctibiidae) und die Beschreibung einer neuen Gattung

Der Tropfentagschläfer (Nyctibius bracteatus Gould, 1846) ist das kleinste Mitglied der Familie der Tagschläfer (Nyctibiidae), welche sieben für die Neotropis endemische Arten umfasst. Morphologisch unterscheidet er sich stark von den anderen Arten der Gattung, nicht nur durch seine geringere Größe sondern auch durch das Vorhandensein einer eigenartigen Musterung der Iris sowie durch sein gänzlich rötlichbraunes Gefieder, das eine leichte Wellenzeichnung und deutliche weiße Flecken auf Flügeldecken, Brust, Bauch, Flanken und Unterschwanzdecken aufweist. Molekulare Studien zeigen einen ungewöhnlich hohen Grad genetischer Divergenz bei den Tagschläferarten und eine neuere molekulare Phylogenie auf Genomebene stuft N. bracteatus mit hoher Konfidenz als basal zu allen übrigen Tagschläfern ein. Parallel dazu belegen osteologische Daten, dass die Art verschiedene einzigartige und plesiomorphe Merkmale besitzt. Diese charakteristische Morphologie in Verbindung mit einzigartigen Verhaltensmerkmalen und der derzeitigen Platzierung auf dem basalen Zweig der Familie haben uns daher dazu bewogen, für diese Art eine neue Gattung einzuführen, Phyllaemulor.

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We are grateful to the following curators and collection managers for allowing us to study the specimens under their care: J. Van Remsen, Jr. and Steve Cardiff (LSUMNS); Helen James and Chris Milensky (NMNH); John Bates, Mary Hennen and Ben Marks (FMNH); Joel Cracraft, Paul Sweet, Peter Capainolo, Merle Okada and Lydia Garetano (AMNH); Stephen P. Rogers (CMNH); Scott Edwards and Jeremiah Trimble (MCZ); Nathan Rice (ANSP); Robert Prys-Jones, Mark Adams and Joanne Cooper (NHMUK); Marie Portas and Eric Pasquet (MNHN); Sylke Frahnert (ZMB); Gerald Mayr (SMF); and Alexandre Aleixo and Fátima Lima (MPEG). For the loan of important specimens we thank: Carla Cicero and Rauri Bowie (MVZ); Diarmaid O’Foighil and Janet Hinshaw (UMMZ); David Steadman and Andrew Kratter (FLMNH); A. Towsend Peterson and Mark Robbins (KUMNH). T. V. V. C. is indebted to the CAPES foundation for the fellowship conceded under the PDSE program (proc. BEX 5360/317), to the Frank Chapman Foundation (AMNH) for the Collection Study Grant and to the Field Museum of Natural History for the Visiting Scholarship. We are also indebted to Francine Brondex for allowing the use of her photo of P. bracteatus; to Mario Cohn-Haft and Normand David for the important discussions on this subject; and one anonymous reviewer for the comments on the submitted manuscript. T. V. V. C., B. M. W., M. J. B., L. F. S. and N. C. conceived the idea, design, experiment (supervised research, formulated question or the hypothesis). T. V. V. C., B. M. W., N. D. W. and M. J. B. performed the experiments (collected data, conducted the research). T. V. V. C., B. M. W., M. J. B., N. D. W., L. F. S. and N. C. wrote the paper (or substantially edited the paper). Collection permits in Brazil were obtained from Sistema de Autorização e Informação em Biodiversidade/Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade.

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Correspondence to Thiago V. V. Costa.

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Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Skin (sk.) and skeleton specimens of Caprimulgiformes and Apodiformes examined at the following institutions: Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (MZUSP); Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Belém, Brazil (MPEG); Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science, Baton Rouge, USA (LSUMNS, specimen acronym LSUMZ); National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA (NMNH, specimen acronym USNM); Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, USA (FMNH); American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA (AMNH); Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA (ANSP); Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Berkeley, USA (MVZ); Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, USA (CMNH); University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Ann Arbor, USA (UMMZ); Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, USA (FLMNH); Museum of Comparative Zoology, Cambridge, USA (MCZ); The Natural History Museum, Tring, UK (NHMUK); Forschungsinstut Senckenberg, Frankfurt, Germany (SMF); Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany (ZMB); and Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France (MNHN).

Nyctibius grandis USNM 615095, USNM 623085, UMMZ 208494, MVZ 165126, LSUMZ 109337, MPEG 952; Nyctibius aethereus USNM 321588, USNM 621717; Nyctibius griseus MZUSP 90514, MZUSP 90621, MZUSP 85895, MZUSP 85894, MZUSP 85896, USNM 344127, USNM 429776, USNM 502493, USNM 612299, USNM 559134, USNM 608918, USNM 227479, MVZ 123819, MVZ 126575, FMNH 317325, LSUMZ 63174, LSUMZ 86464; Nyctibius jamaicensis USNM 611744, USNM 288822, USNM 344903, USNM 556856, USNM 557530, MVZ 85696; Nyctibius leucopterus LSUMZ 165791, LSUMZ 165793; Nyctibius bracteatus MZUSP 92606 (sk.), MPEG 52954 (sk.), MPEG 62434 (sk.), MPEG 72300 (sk.), MPEG 72301 (sk.), MPEG 76511 (sk.), AMNH 231054 (sk.), ANSP 183091 (sk.), ANSP 187524 (sk.), ANSP 22016 (sk.), LSUMZ 71021 (sk.), LSUMZ 114641 (sk.), LSUMZ 87299 (sk.), LSUMZ 165792 (sk.), NHMUK 1888.8.1.25 (sk.), NHMUK 1888.8.1.26 (sk.), NHMUK 1888.8.1.27 (sk.), NHMUK 1890.2.18.70 (sk.), NHMUK 1890.2.18.71 (sk.), MNHN CG847.963 (sk.), SMF 29870 (sk.); Steatornis caripensis USNM 560206, USNM 560151, NHMUK 1900.7.6.39, LSUMZ 170392, AMNH 106720; Podargus strigoides NHMUK 1952.2.507, NHMUK 1955.9.4, USNM 492463, USNM 632131; Podargus papuensis USNM 614956, NHMUK 1900.7.9.53; Rigidipenna inexpectata FLMNH 40210, Batrachostomus septimus UMMZ 207453, Batrachostomus auritus USNM 530279; Aegotheles cristatus USNM 612708, USNM 620228, USNM 612637, USNM 632149, USNM 227841, UMMZ 214241; Aegotheles crinifrons USNM 560816; Eurostopodus mystacalis KUNHM 98274, Eurostopodus guttatus UMMZ 214242, Lyncornis macrotis USNM 431310, USNM 431311; Chordeiles nacunda MZUSP 90513, LSUMZ 151635, LSUMZ 169279, USNM 635857, USNM 635858; Chordeiles minor FMNH 452018, FMNH 428815, FMNH 467660, AMNH 29691, AMNH 26579, AMNH 29690; Chordeiles gundlachii FMNH 376624, USNM 555511, USNM 555514, USNM 555519, USNM 562472, USNM 555518, CMNH 14290; Chordeiles acutipennis AMNH 18303, AMNH 13245, USNM 226726, USNM 498931, CMNH 13083, LSUMZ 157235, LSUMZ 157236, LSUMZ 157237; Chordeiles rupestris MZUSP 90625, MZUSP 90626, MZUSP 90627, LSUMZ 48733, LSUMZ 118557; Chordeiles pusillus USNM 622336, USNM 622323, USNM 622249, KUNHM 91072, KUNHM 91107; Lurocalis semitorquatus MZUSP 90494, MZUSP 85902, LSUMZ 105663, AMNH 18303, USNM 488522, USNM 488523, USNM 622777; Nyctiprogne leucopyga USNM 632514, USNM 562195, USNM 562194, USNM 429363, USNM 429368; Phalaenoptilus nuttallii AMNH 26230, FMNH 342824, FMNH 291368, USNM 634988, USNM 554124, CMNH 14701; Siphonorhis brewsteri USNM 354527, KUNHM 95182, Nyctiphrynus ocellatus MZUSP 98497, USNM 345891, USNM 562200, USNM 562201, FMNH 433075, FMNH 320460; Antrostomus carolinensis AMNH 27976, FMNH 379200, FMNH 443592, FMNH 396925, Antrostomus vociferus AMNH 26392, CMNH 16108, USNM 499185, USNM 502467, USNM 499488, USNM 432586, LSUMZ 104889; Antrostomus ridgwayi AMNH 14196, MCZ 342974, FLMNH 33870; Antrostomus rufus USNM 347720, USNM 347730; Antrostomus saturatus LSUMZ 138599, USNM 429774, USNM 488517; Nyctipolus nigrescens MZUSP 98498, USNM 621718, FMNH 318684, LSUMZ 118174, LSUMZ 118175; Systellura longirostris USNM 322960, LSUMZ 169587, LSUMZ 114249; Nyctidromus albicollis, MZUSP 90624, MZUSP 85897, FMNH 376562, FMNH 376559, FMNH 376561, CMNH 9075, CMNH 9066, NHMUK 1974.11.20; Nyctidromus anthonyi LSUMZ 75600; Eleothreptus anomalus KUMNH 91797; Uropsalis segmentata FMNH 433080, LSUMZ 89704, LSUMZ 89705, LSUMZ 106948; Uropsalis lyra UMMZ 207243, LSUMZ 170391; Setopagis parvula FMNH 334393, USNM 555943, USNM 555944, USNM 620758, LSUMZ 151639; Hydropsalis cayennensis USNM 621954, USNM 622317, USNM 622382, USNM 498901; Hydropsalis maculicaudus USNM 344129, USNM 623217; Hydropsalis torquata FMNH 334973, FMNH 334974, LSUMZ 64992, LSUMZ 65298, USNM 227818; Hydropsalis climacocerca USNM 562201, USNM 562202, USNM 621955, USNM 621956, USNM 637265, LSUMZ 120980; Macropsalis forcipata MZUSP 85903; Caprimulgus aegyptius NHMUK 1986.71.5, NHMUK; Caprimulgus affinis USNM 20311, USNM 225822, USNM 223983; Caprimulgus batesi USNM 622984, USNM 623010, Caprimulgus climacurus USNM 347442, USNM 322580, USNM 431698, USNM 347443; Gactornis enarratus FMNH 352811, MCZ 343119, NHMUK 1897.5.10.1; Caprimulgus fossii USNM 430459, USNM 430801, USNM 430799; Caprimulgus inornatus USNM 319984, USNM 431697; Caprimulgus madagascariensis FMNH 436501, USNM 432198, USNM 432227; Caprimulgus natalensis USNM 313071; Caprimulgus poliocephalus FMNH 357952, LSUMZ 153210; Caprimulgus fraenatus FMNH 28022, USM 499379, FLMNH 38713; Caprimulgus tristigma USNM 558539, USNM 430800; Caprimulgus ruficollis NHMUK 1997.1133; Caprimulgus europaeus USNM 431701, USNM 490326, USNM 552944, USNM 552945; Macrodipteryx longipennis FMNH 319987, NHMUK 1976.43.1, NHMUK 1976.43.2; Macrodypteryx vexillarius FMNH 444039, USNM 431637, USNM 430848, USNM 439471, USNM 490183; Streptoprogne zonaris MZUSP 90688, MZUSP 85904, USNM 614120; Cypseloides niger USNM 614120; Cypseloides phelpsi USNM 622775; Chaetura brachyura USNM 561593; Chaetura cinereiventris USNM 632429; Hemiprocne comata USNM 488940, USNM 607338; Hemiprocne longipennis MVZ 131166, USNM 560827; Hemiprocne mystacea USNM 560827, USNM 560828; Phaethornis superciliosus USNM 632344; Ramphodon naevius USNM 562759; Ensifera ensifera USNM 428880; Campylopterus hyperythrus USNM 622808; Heliothryx aurita USNM 621731.

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Costa, T.V.V., Whitney, B.M., Braun, M.J. et al. A systematic reappraisal of the Rufous Potoo Nyctibius bracteatus (Nyctibiidae) and description of a new genus. J Ornithol 159, 367–377 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-017-1511-2

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  • Nyctibiidae
  • Molecular phylogeny
  • Genetic divergence
  • Osteology
  • Plesiomorphy