Mouse-coloured tapaculo

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Mouse-coloured tapaculo
Scytalopus speluncae - Mouse-coloured Tapaculo.JPG
at Campos do Jordão, São Paulo State, Brazil.
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Rhinocryptidae
Genus: Scytalopus
S. speluncae
Binomial name
Scytalopus speluncae
(Ménétries, 1835)

Scytalopus notorius Raposo et al., 2006[2]

The mouse-coloured tapaculo or Serra do Mar tapaculo (Scytalopus speluncae) is a species of bird in the family Rhinocryptidae. It is endemic to humid highland forests in southeastern Brazil, where it ranges from southwestern Espírito Santo to northeastern Rio Grande do Sul.[3] Most of its range is in the Serra do Mar, but it also occurs further inland in Paraná and Santa Catarina.[3] Until 2005, the Planalto tapaculo was included in the mouse-coloured tapaculo.[4]

Here we follow SACC,[5] but the taxonomy is extremely complex, and it is possible the correct scientific name of this relatively dark species is S. notorius, in which case the closely related paler species from the Espinhaço Mountains region would be S. speluncae.[2]


In 2005, it was found that the otherwise relatively well known S. speluncae actually consisted of two species, of which the southern was described as a new species, S. pachecoi, while the northern retained S. speluncae. It was further suggested that S. speluncae included yet another undescribed species, but more work was needed on that matter.[4]

Scientific name[edit]

In 2006, doubt about the use of the scientific name S. speluncae for the mouse-coloured tapaculo surfaced.[2] An examination of the type specimen of S. speluncae (Ménétriés, 1835) resulted in the conclusion that this name belonged to a relatively pale population from the Espinhaço Mountains that had been included within S. novacapitalis (vocally, this population is closer to S. pachecoi).[2] This meant that the relatively dark population of the Serra do Mar region – the population that traditionally had been called S. speluncae – had to receive a new name: S. notorius ("notorius" to illustrate its problematic taxonomic history).[2] This conclusion was questioned in 2007, which maintained that the population of the Serra do Mar region is S. speluncae, while the population of the central and southern Espinhaço Mountains was considered undescribed, and the population of the northernmost Espinhaço Mountains was described as a new species, S. diamantinensis.[6] Although the possibility of two species in the Espinhaço Mountains was not questioned in an article published the following year, the conclusion that the name S. speluncae belonged to the species of the Serra do Mar was; mainly on the basis that no direct comparison of the type specimen of S. speluncae had been made in 2007 (unlike in the article from 2006).[7] In 2010, other authors came to a different conclusion, as they suggested the original description by Édouard Ménétries in 1835 more closely matched the relatively dark species of the Serra do Mar region.[8] They also concluded that the original type locality of São João del Rei (within the range of the relatively pale central and south Espinhaço Mountains species) provided by Ménétries was incorrect, and it actually was collected somewhere in central Rio de Janeiro (within the range of the Serra do Mar species).[8] Following this, the relatively pale species of the southern and central Espinhaço Mountains region was described as a new species, S. petrophilus.[3] This view was supported by SACC.[5]

Phylogenetic evidence suggests that undescribed taxa from the genus Scytalopus remain in eastern Brazil.[9]

English name[edit]

Regardless of the correct scientific name, the English names mouse-coloured tapaculo and Serra do Mar tapaculo have both been used for the relatively dark species of the Serra do Mar region, but neither is perfect: Most tapaculos of the genus Scytalopus are largely mouse-grey in colour, and what was included in the mouse-coloured tapaculo until 2005 is very different from what would be included in the mouse-coloured tapaculo today.[3][10] Additionally, the relatively pale species of the central and southern Espinhaço Mountains has been called the mouse-coloured tapaculo (used briefly by Comitê Brasileiro de Registros Ornitológicos, but not anymore), which could add additional confusion. The name Serra do Mar tapaculo for the species of the Serra do Mar region is also potentially misleading, as it is not entirely restricted to this mountain range, but also occurs far inland in Paraná and Santa Catarina.[3]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Scytalopus speluncae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e Raposo, Marcos A.; Stopiglia, Renata; Loskot, Vladimir & Kirwan, Guy M. (2006). The correct use of the name Scytalopus speluncae (Ménétriés, 1835), and the description of a new species of Brazilian tapaculo (Aves: Passeriformes: Rhinocryptidae). Zootaxa 1271: 37-56. Accessed 15 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e Whitney, B.M.; Vasconcelos, M.F.; Silveira, L.F.; Pacheco, J.F. (2010). Scytalopus petrophilus (Rock Tapaculo): a new species from Minas Gerais, Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 18 (2): 73-88.
  4. ^ a b Maurício, Giovanni Nachtigall (2005). Taxonomy of new populations in the Scytalopus speluncae group, with description of a new species and remarks on the systematics and biogeography of the complex (Passeriformes: Rhinocryptidae) Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine. Ararajuba 13(1): 7-28. Accessed 15 May 2011.
  5. ^ a b Van Remsen, J. (2010). Recognize newly described Scytalopus petrophilus. SACC. Accessed 15 May 2011.
  6. ^ Bornschein, M. R.; Maurício, G. N.; Belmonte-Lopes, R.; Mata, H.; Bonatto, S. L. (2007). Diamantina Tapaculo, a new Scytalopus endemic to the Chapada Diamantina, northeastern Brazil (Passeriformes: Rhinocryptidae). Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 15(2): 151-174. Accessed 15 May 2011.
  7. ^ Raposo, Marcos A.; & Kirwan, Guy M. (2008). The Brazilian species complex Scytalopus speluncae: how many times can a holotype be overlooked?. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 16(1): 78-81. Accessed 15 May 2011.
  8. ^ a b Maurício, G.N.; Bornschein, M.R.; Vasconcelos, M.F.; Whitney, J.F.; Pacheco, J.F.; Silveira, L.F. (2010). Taxonomy of “Mouse‑colored Tapaculos”. I. On the application of the name Malacorhynchus speluncae Ménétriès, 1835 (Aves: Passeriformes: Rhinocryptidae). Zootaxa 2518: 32-48
  9. ^ Mata, Helena; Fontana, Carla S.; Maurício, Giovanni N.; Bornschein, Marcos R.; Ferreira de Vasconcelos, Marcelo & Bonatto, Sandro L. (2009). Molecular phylogeny and biogeography of the eastern Tapaculos (Aves: Rhinocryptidae: Scytalopus, Eleoscytalopus): Cryptic diversification in Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53(2): 450-462.
  10. ^ Krabbe, N. K.; Schulenberg, T. S. (2003). Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos). Pp. 748-787 in: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D., eds. (2003). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 8. Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-50-4

Further reading[edit]

  • Nemésio, A.; Rasmussen, C.; Aguiar, A.P.; Pombal, Jr., J.P. & Dubois, A. (2013). Nomenclatural issues in ornithology: the incredible controversy on the identity of a long overlooked Brazilian bird. Zootaxa 3734: 241-258.
  • Raposo, M.A.; Kirwan, G.M.; Loskot, V. & Pinto de Assis, C. (2012). São João del Rei is the type locality of Scytalopus speluncae (Aves: Passeriformes: Rhinocryptidae)—a response to Maurício et al. 2010. Zootaxa 3439: 51-67.

External links[edit]