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AOU Committee on Classification and Nomenclature (North & Middle America)

Votes on Proposals 2009-E

2009-E-1: Elevate Troglodytes troglodytes pacificus and Troglodytes troglodytes hiemalis to species status, and adopt the English names Western Winter-Wren and Eastern Winter-Wren
2009-E-2: Transfer the brown towhees to Kieneria or to Melozone
2009-E-3: Return Aimophila quinquestriata to Amphispiza or transfer it to Amphispizopsis

Elevate Troglodytes troglodytes pacificus and Troglodytes troglodytes hiemalis to species status, and adopt the English names Western Winter-Wren and Eastern Winter-Wren

YES. Option 4. Recognize both pacificus and hiemalis as species.

YES - with caveats regarding the English names.  I favor Pacific Wren and Winter Wren.

YES. Option 4.

YES. Option 4. It would not surprise me that it is eventually found that the Commander Island birds (especially) and maybe those from Japan get folded into the pacificus species.

YES. I prefer Pacific Wren and Winter Wren.

YES. Option 4. Elevate both hiemalis and pacificus to species status, distinct from Eurasian Troglodytes troglodytes.

YES. Option 4. Elevate both hiemalis and pacificus to species status, distinct from Eurasian "Winter" Wrens. I cannot remember how I voted the first time, but I thought it was for the 3 species model. In my experience, I have found the songs of European Wrens to be very different from those of "eastern" Winter Wrens (although I realize that song may be largely learned). Also, their ecology is different, for what that is worth. As for vernacular names, I like Eastern Winter-Wren and Western Winter-Wren, for reasons stated in the proposal. I note the dreaded hyphens, but I have always liked that usage in most cases, to call attention not only to history but also relationships. So, I was one of the minority who liked Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, etc., but I note that that really is long and convoluted, and unpopular. Note also the Rough-winged Swallows, but there is no reason that we must  be consistent. I wonder what the Europeans will do? In many of my European books I still see Wren with Winter Wren in ( )s. Perhaps just go back to Wren.

YES. I vote to recognize both pacificus and hiemalis as distinct from T. troglodytes. This seems like the best option, based on voice, molecular data, and biogeography. However, I have to say that I think we need to think more about the English names. Sorry. The problem is that it seems unlikely that pacificus and hiemalis are sister taxa. If they are not, then Winter-Wren is not really appropriate as a group name, because they are not a monophyletic group. I recognize the problems with Pacific Wren (although they don't horrify me personally), and I am uncertain what to do with the eastern population; somehow Eastern Wren doesn't quite make it. We could leave the eastern population as Winter wren, and something like Redwood Wren for the western version. Just babbling right now, but I do think Eastern and Western Winter-Wren won't do.

YES. YES on species limits, but NO on E names. I agree with the point that we can’t have a hyphen unless it is certain that Eastern and Western are sister taxa with respect to Eurasian. Although I doubt that the weakly supported mtDNA gene tree will hold up and predict that hiemalis and pacificus will eventually be shown to be sisters, this point is important. I also like the proposed solution – Winter Wren for hiemalis (a match for the scientific name and this is the more migratory taxon) and the novel but appropriate and euphonious Redwood Wren (or Wredwood Ren?) for pacificus. I think we need a separate proposal, unfortunately, on this. 

YES. In favor on species limits (option 4), though grumblingly so – there are too many tea leaves being read (i.e., unpublished evidence) in that proposal regarding species limits within an mtDNA study (Drovetski et al. 2004) that we would likely not accept on its own as adequately delimiting species. So I mentally rephrase it as that with specific distinctness being evident between hiemalis and pacificus and the specimen evidence I can see, I can comfortably infer allospecies status at least for Europe and eastward. (Some years ago I showed my class YouTube videos of the British Wren, so maybe if pers. comm. can be used in proposals on sound we can use YouTube, too? We are probably going to have to be able to point to electronically available evidence soon in cases like this.) On English names, I’d also vote YES. Before we saddle pacificus with something like Redwood Winter Wren let’s remember the HUGE part of its range that has neither redwoods or even trees.

YES. Option 4. I’m glad this was followed up. All you have to do is go to the UK to realize ours are very different birds.


Transfer the brown towhees to Kieneria or to Melozone

YES. Option 1. Recognize Kieneria for five species.

YES. Option 1. Transfer to Kieneria.

YES. Option 2. I could go with either option 1 or 2, but I prefer option 2 for reasons given by others.

YES. Option 1. I vote for option number 1 as it seems the most conservative.

YES. Option 1. Move five spp. to Kieneria.

YES. Option 1. Transfer the brown towhees to the genus Kieneria, which would then consist of the five species kieneri, aberti, crissalis, albicollis, and fuscus.

YES. Option 1.

YES. Option 2 - Melozone. The strong phenotypic similarities among the taxa currently included in this genus would require, in my opinion, stronger genetic data to place one in one genus and two in another. Let’s make sure we get solid data on that first.

YES. I like either option 1 or option 3, but lean toward 1 because 3 does give you an "excessively heterogeneous group."

YES. Option 2. I vote for Melozone for the brown towhees and the current Melozone, rather than a previously unused name for the brown towhees plus kieneri. I would be okay with Kieneria if the majority of the committee leans that way. I would have a hard time with everything into Aimophila. That just seems like to heterogeneous a grouping.

YES. Option 2 - Melozone.

NOTE: Follow-up discussion resulted in move to Melozone.


Return Aimophila quinquestriata to Amphispiza or transfer it to Amphispizopsis

YES. Option 1. Return quinquestriata to Amphispiza.  Comment—belli will soon (?) move to its own genus, and we might avoid having so many monotypic genera.

YES. Option 1. Return to Amphispiza. Since bilineata is the type for the genus, this should be stable regardless of where belli ends up.

YES. Option 2. Although both mtDNA and nuclear data point to a sister relationship between quinquestriata and bilineata, these taxa are quite distinctive genetically, phenotypically, and behaviorally.

YES. Option 1. Move quinquestriata to Amphispiza. Seems like this has the best hope for long term stability.

YES. Option 2.

YES. Option 1 - Amphispiza. I really don’t think we have a choice now.

YES. I prefer returning quinquestriata to Amphispiza, but wish that someone would do the molecular work on belli, which resemble the "other" Amphispiza, but this is (to date) not well supported by more rigorous data. I anticipate that perhaps Amphispiza will become a 2 species genus, so this would probably only be a temporary move. I don't dislike monotypic genera, but I don't think that this would be a good one if it can be avoided.

YES. Option 1. I vote for moving quinquestriata back into Amphispiza.

YES. Option 1 - Amphispiza.

YES. Option 2. I have no problem with monospecific genera. There's a proud tradition for this within the sparrow assemblage. Watching Five-striped Sparrows skulk about and give loud and finch like calls reminds me very little of Black-throated Sparrows.

YES. Option 1. Return quinquestriata to the genus Amphispiza, which would (at least temporarily) consist of the three species quinquestriata, bilineata, and belli.