Article

Vocal and Molecular Phylogenetic Evidence for Recognition of a Thistletail Species (Furnariidae: Asthenes ) Endemic to the Elfin Forests of Ayacucho, Peru

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Abstract

The Andean Cordillera is notable for numerous centers of avian endemism along its great length. Yet, the narrow band of humid montane forest in eastern Ayacucho in south-central Peru is not known to harbor endemic bird species despite its position between two putative biogeographic barriers: the arid Apurímac and Mantaro river valleys. We report the first documented records of the endemic Ayacucho subspecies of Vilcabamba Thistletail, Asthenes vilcabambae ayacuchensis since its initial discovery and collection in 1968-1970. Unexpectedly, the previously unknown song of A. v. ayacuchensis is more similar to Eye-ringed Thistletail Asthenes palpebralis of Junín Department than to nominate A. v. vilcabambae of western Cuzco Department. Phylogenetic analyses of DNA sequences reinforce vocal evidence, and support that A. v. ayacuchensis is more closely related to A. palpebralis and the Rusty-fronted Canastero A. ottonis than to A. v. vilcabambae. Based on distinct vocalizations, phylogeny, and diagnosable plumage characters, ayacuchensis merits species recognition. The "Ayacucho Thistletail" is documented certainly from elfin forest localities in three small valleys in the Apurímac drainage in eastern Ayacucho. There are no protected areas or reserves that overlap A. ayacuchensis' limited distribution and we suspect that it, like many elfin-forest specialists in the Andes, is threatened by anthropogenic habitat modification.

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... Eye-ringed Thistletail S. palpebralis exclusively as a trill, so it might well be that some species only sing the trilled song and other species only the accelerating song. Hosner et al. (2015) already noted the striking vocal difference of both races (based on the same available recordings), but failed to mention that some species do sing both song types, which calls for considerable caution when assessing vocal difference to avoid oversimplification. Strict application of Tobias criteria would lead to high scores for vocal difference based on e.g. ...
... To search for further evidence of possible vocal differences, one can also investigate call notes. We measured the following: Based on this notable difference (which confirms earlier findings in Hosner et al. 2015) in max. freq., this would lead to a score of 3. (However, again at least some other Thistletails share these call notes, and it would be interesting to further analyze if the combination of song and call allows to distinguish all or most present species (e.g. ...
... In light of its distinctive vocalizations, previously described plumage differences, and molecular data (PAH, unpubl. data) support recognizing A. ayacuchensis as a distinct species endemic to Ayacucho (Hosner et al. 2015). ...
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Raven Pro: interactive sound analysis software. Version 1.3. Cornell Lab of Ornithology
, 31907, 35907, 35240, 81585, 81587, 82840, 91618, 100935, 100971, 129542, 129547, 143629, 143632, 161725, 173943, 173946, 173947, 186929; XC 6588, 6589, 14705, 18035, 18050, 20144, 20145, 20146, 24012, 36778, 41499, 74415, 74417, 90485, 91018, 91020, 91022, 91023, 91024, 91025, 91312, 91314, 92336, 121297; A. v. vilcabambae: ML 10414, 92105, 92116, 92118, 92131, 92143, 92202, 92205, 92211, 92115, 92224, 92227, 92228, 92265, 173982, 173988, 186968, 186969; A. v. ayacuchensis: ML 186902, 186904, 186910, 186918, 186922; A. palpebralis: ML 147214, 147222, 147237, 147236, 147265, 171859, 171831, XC 3737, 13873, 20660, 20661, 29747, 29749, 41098, 41099, 41100, 41153, 41154, 41490, 41491, 41492, 41493, 47025, 97749, 142412, 152903, 152905, 152906; Asthenes sp: BIOACOUSTICS RESEARCH PROGRAM. 2008. Raven Pro: interactive sound analysis software. Version 1.3. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. http://www. birds.cornell.edu/raven CHESSER, R. T., F. K. BARKER, AND R. T. BRUMFIELD. 2007. Fourfold polyphyly of the genus formerly known as Upucerthia, with notes on the systematics and evolution of the avian subfamily Furnariinae. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 44:1320–1332.
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121297; A. v. vilcabambae: ML 10414 Asthenes sp: ML 82815) We produced representative spectrograms for each taxon with RavenPro 1
(n 5 25) archived as of September 2014 (A. ottonis: ML 24061, 24064, 24702, 24073, 31907, 35907, 35240, 81585, 81587, 82840, 91618, 100935, 100971, 129542, 129547, 143629, 143632, 161725, 173943, 173946, 173947, 186929; XC 6588, 6589, 14705, 18035, 18050, 20144, 20145, 20146, 24012, 36778, 41499, 74415, 74417, 90485, 91018, 91020, 91022, 91023, 91024, 91025, 91312, 91314, 92336, 121297; A. v. vilcabambae: ML 10414, 92105, 92116, 92118, 92131, 92143, 92202, 92205, 92211, 92115, 92224, 92227, 92228, 92265, 173982, 173988, 186968, 186969; A. v. ayacuchensis: ML 186902, 186904, 186910, 186918, 186922; A. palpebralis: ML 147214, 147222, 147237, 147236, 147265, 171859, 171831, XC 3737, 13873, 20660, 20661, 29747, 29749, 41098, 41099, 41100, 41153, 41154, 41490, 41491, 41492, 41493, 47025, 97749, 142412, 152903, 152905, 152906; Asthenes sp: ML 82815). We produced representative spectrograms for each taxon with RavenPro 1.3 (Bioacoustics Research Program 2008). Museum specimens examined included A. ottonis (KU 112842, 112861, 112901, 113472), A. palpebralis (KU 113889–91), A. v. vilcabambae (AMNH 803123, holotype, via photographs; KU 122580, 122590;
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