DNA sequence data reveal a subfamily-level divergence within Thamnophilidae (Aves: Passeriformes)

Gustavo A. Bravo, Louisiana State University
J. V. Remsen, Louisiana State University
Bret M. Whitney, Louisiana State University
Robb T. Brumfield, Louisiana State University


The Thamnophilidae is a diverse radiation of insectivorous passerine birds that comprises nearly 220 species and is mostly restricted to the lowlands and lower montane forests of the Neotropics. Current classification within Thamnophilidae relies primarily on morphological variation, but recent incorporation of molecular and vocal data has promoted changes at various taxonomic levels. Here we demonstrate that the genus Terenura is polyphyletic because Terenura callinota, T. humeralis, T. spodioptila, and T. sharpei are phylogenetically distant from the type species of the genus, Terenura maculata. More importantly, the former four species are not particularly closely related to any other thamnophilids and represent a clade that is sister to all other members of the family. Because no genus name is available for this previously undetected lineage in the Thamnophilidae, we describe the genus Euchrepomis for callinota, humeralis, spodioptila, and sharpei, and erect the subfamily Euchrepomidinae. We discuss the taxonomic and evolutionary significance of this divergent lineage. This study highlights the importance of taxonomic coverage and the inclusion of type taxa to redefine classifications to reflect accurately evolutionary relationships. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.