A generic revision of flycatchers of the tribe Muscicapini. Bulletin of the AMNH ; v. 100, article 4

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New York : [American Museum of Natural History]
"This paper is a generic study of 113 species of flycatchers of the tribe Muscicapini, about one-third of the species computed for the subfamily Muscicapinae by Mayr and Amadon (1951). Twelve genera with five subgenera are recognized, a list of which is given on page 473 together with a brief synopsis giving the number of species in each genus, its general distribution, and characters. Of the 12 genera three (Horizorhinus, Newtonia, and Culicicapa) are of uncertain affinities. The first which is monotypic is restricted to Principe Island in the Gulf of Guinea and, though provisionally included in the Muscicapini in this study, is often considered to be a babbler but may possibly be a warbler or a thrush. The second, from Madagascar, although aberrant, is probably a member of the Muscicapini and may be distantly related to Muscicapa. The affinities of the third, which consists of two Indo-Malayan species, are perhaps with the Rhipidurini rather than with the Muscicapini. In these three genera the young are not spotted. The other genera can be divided in two groups, with the Indo-Malayan genus Rhinomyias intermediate. The first group which consists of Bradornis and related genera is Ethiopian and comprises more primitive species that are usually heavily built and in which the flycatcher habits are not well developed, these species usually dropping down to the ground to feed, though two species (separated as Fraseria) are arboreal. The second group consists of Muscicapa and related genera and comprises the true flycatchers, the species differing, however, in their feeding or other habits or in the height at which they feed. The main genera recognized in this group are Ficedula, Niltava, Muscicapa, and Microeca, these genera ranging widely as a group throughout the Ethiopian, Palearctic, Indo-Malayan, and Australo-Papuan regions. The variations in the morphological characters and habits are discussed in an introductory section. The large majority of the structural (functional) characters as distinct from the pattern and coloration of the plumage appear to be adaptive and are of dubious phylogenetic significance. The feeding habits, however, are not always diagnostic either, for they occasionally vary between species that are obviously closely related. These differences in habits may be correlated with adaptive differences in structure, but in some species, the habits of which vary geographically with changing ecological conditions, the morphological characters do not change. For instance, an arboreal or semi-arboreal species (as in the genus Niltava) which occupies open country in a region where exposed hunting perches are available may live in thickets, dense undergrowth, or mangrove in another region where such perches are not available. Or a species may live on the seaboard in one region and in mountains in another. Coloration and pattern are generally far more conservative than the structural characters and feeding habits. All the characters are weighed together. Functional characters, coloration and pattern, and habits are considered to be equally valid for generic separation, but the emphasis on certain characters, or a complex of characters and habits, must shift in order not to obscure the evident natural relationships of the species. Throughout this study chief consideration is given to the preservation of such relationships. Most of the genera recognized are quite or relatively homogeneous, but in Ficedula a number of more or less closely related subgroups can be distinguished, some of them representing, perhaps, polyphyletic elements. The Ethiopian genus Parisoma is omitted from this study, although this genus is usually placed in the Muscicapini not far from Muscicapa. However, as stated in the introduction, where this genus is briefly discussed, Parisoma appears to be a composite and unnatural group made up of species which do not seem to be related to the Muscicapinae, some of them being almost certainly warblers which several authors have suggested should be placed in or near Sylvia. The nomenclatural aspects of this study are listed in the appendix"--P. 533.
p. 457-538 : ill., maps ; 27 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 536-538).