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      Untangling cryptic diversity in the High Andes: Revision of the Scytalopus [magellanicus] complex (Rhinocryptidae) in Peru reveals three new species

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          Tropical mountains feature marked species turnover along elevational gradients and across complex topography, resulting in great concentrations of avian biodiversity. In these landscapes, particularly among morphologically conserved and difficult to observe avian groups, species limits still require clarification. One such lineage is Scytalopus tapaculos, which are among the morphologically most conserved birds. Attention to their distinctive vocal repertoires and phylogenetic relationships has resulted in a proliferation of newly identified species, many of which are restricted range endemics. Here, we present a revised taxonomy and identify species limits among high-elevation populations of Scytalopus tapaculos inhabiting the Peruvian Andes. We employ an integrated framework using a combination of vocal information, mitochondrial DNA sequences, and appearance, gathered from our own fieldwork over the past 40 yr and supplemented with community-shared birdsong archives and museum specimens. We describe 3 new species endemic to Peru. Within all 3 of these species there is genetic differentiation, which in 2 species is mirrored by subtle geographic plumage and vocal variation. In a fourth species, Scytalopus schulenbergi, we document deep genetic divergence and plumage differences despite overall vocal similarity. We further propose that an extralimital taxon, Scytalopus opacus androstictus, be elevated to species rank, based on a diagnostic vocal character. Our results demonstrate that basic exploration and descriptive work using diverse data sources continues to identify new species of birds, particularly in tropical environs.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Cryptic species as a window on diversity and conservation.

          The taxonomic challenge posed by cryptic species (two or more distinct species classified as a single species) has been recognized for nearly 300 years, but the advent of relatively inexpensive and rapid DNA sequencing has given biologists a new tool for detecting and differentiating morphologically similar species. Here, we synthesize the literature on cryptic and sibling species and discuss trends in their discovery. However, a lack of systematic studies leaves many questions open, such as whether cryptic species are more common in particular habitats, latitudes or taxonomic groups. The discovery of cryptic species is likely to be non-random with regard to taxon and biome and, hence, could have profound implications for evolutionary theory, biogeography and conservation planning.
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            The relationship among area, elevation, and regional species richness in neotropical birds.

             C Rahbek (1997)
            The elevational gradient of species richness is often claimed to mirror the latitudinal gradient and has traditionally been explained by assuming a decrease in productivity with elevation and more recently by Rapoport's rule. The influence of area on the pattern has rarely been considered. Analyses of all South American tropical land birds (more than one-fourth of the extant bird species on Earth) are used to examine four species richness/elevation models: null model, Rapoport's rule, and monotonic or hump-shaped productivity/species richness relationships. To quantify the area effect, species-area curves were created for seven elevational zones. Not accounting for area, species richness declined monotonically with elevation, but area accounted for 67%-91% of the variation in species richness per zone. When area was factored out, a hump-shaped pattern emerged, with more species in the 500-1,000-m (P<.005) and 1,000-1,500-m zones (P<.10) than in the 0-500-m zone. Rapoport's rule and the monotonic productivity/species richness relationship were thus not supported. Instead, elevational turnover rates and numbers of shared species between zones suggested that the hump-shaped pattern reflects geometric constraints (as predicted by the null model) imposed by the narrow span of the gradient, and it is suggested that midelevational zones may represent sink habitats.
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              Bird Species Diversity on an Andean Elevational Gradient

               John Terborgh (1977)

                Author and article information

                The Auk
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                February 21 2020
                [1 ]Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
                [2 ]Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science and Department of Biological Sciences, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA
                [3 ]Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
                [4 ]University of Kansas Biodiversity Research Institute, Lawrence, Kansas, USA
                [5 ]Division of Birds, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA
                [6 ]Center for Macroecology, Evolution, and Climate, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
                [7 ]American Bird Conservancy, The Plains, Virginia, USA
                [8 ]Department of Biology and Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
                [9 ]Laboratorio de Biología Evolutiva de Vertebrados, Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
                [10 ]CORBIDI, Calle Sta Rita 105, of 02, Surco, Lima, Peru
                [11 ]Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Faculty of Forestry Sciences, Lima, Peru
                © 2020


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