Fawn-breasted Tanager Pipraeidea melanonota
Version: 1.0 — Published August 14, 2015
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There are two recognized subspecies of Pipraeidea melanonota, the nominate P. m. melanonota and P. m. venezuelensis. (Clements et al. 2014, Dickinson and Christidis 2014).
The nominate subspecies was named by Vieillot in 1819 from material near Rio de Janeiro (Paynter and Storer 1970). For a description of the nominate subspecies please refer to the Detailed Description above. The range for this subspecies includes Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northeastern Argentina. The elevation varies with geographic locality. It can be found in Brazil in central to south Mato Grosso, south Bahia, east Minas Gerais, furthest southward following the coast down to Rio Grande do Sul; westward to Misiones, Argentina; southeast Paraguay. A disjunct population is known from southern Uruguay to Buenos Aires, Argentina down the coast to just north of San Clemente del Tuyú (Isler and Isler 1987).
The subspecies P. m. venezuelensis was described by Sclater in 1857 from material collected near Caracas, Venezuela (Paynter and Storer 1970). It has darker colors on the dorsal side with a paler buff on the ventral side, the males have a variant with brown on the crown and nape; the females have even less blue coloration; the eyes of both sexes are a brighter red (Hilty 2011). Pipraeidea. m. venezuelensis occurs from Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia to northern and northwestern Argentina (elevation varies with geographic locality). In northern Venezuela, it spans across coastal Sucre, Distrito Federal, and Carabobo, to western Lara, Mérida, and southwestern Bolívar. In Colombia, this subspecies is found along the Pacific slope in Norte de Santander, Boyacá, Quindío, South Tolima, and Sabana de Bogotá, but it is not found on in the western Andes or the Santa Marta Mountains. In Peru, P. m. venezuelensis is found on the Pacific slope south to central Lima and on the east and west slope. In Argentina they are in Tucumán. They are also found in Bolivia and found in eastern and western Ecuador (Meyer de Schauensee 1966, Koepcke 1970, Isler and Isler 1987, Clements et al. 2001, Hilty 2003, Hilty 2011).
Formerly Pipraeidea was considered to be a monotypic genus, with melanonota as the sole species (e.g. Storer 1970). Current taxonomy places Pipraeidea melanonota in a genus with Blue-and-Yellow Tanager (P. bonariensis; previously Thraupis), which was a recent addition to the genus based on molecular phylogenetic evidence (Burns et al. 2014, Clements et al. 2014). The hypothesized sister group to Pipraeidea has changed a number of times just in the last 12 years. Molecular systematics has regularly recovered Pipraeidea within a clade of northern Andean tanagers, including the genera Anisognathus, Iridosornis, Calochaetes, Delothraupis, Dubusia, Buthraupis, and Chlorornis (Sedano and Burns 2010, Burns et al. 2014). These genera are largely endemic to high elevations in the northern Andes, which strongly suggests an Andean radiation of the group (Sedano and Burns 2010). Within this group, the phylogenetic position of Pipraeidea has varied (Burns 1997, Burns et al. 2002, Sedano and Burns 2010); however, the most recent phylogeny (Burns et al. 2014) strongly supports Pipraeidea as sister to a large clade containing Anisognathus, Dubusia, Chlorornis, Saltator rufiventris, and some species of Thraupis and Buthraupis.
There are two described subspecies within P. melanonota. The nominate (P. m. melanonota) was named by Vieillot in 1819 from material near Rio de Janeiro (Paynter and Storer 1970). The subspecies P. m. venezuelensis was described by Sclater in 1857 from material collected near Caracas, Venezuela (Paynter and Storer 1970). The amount of genetic divergence between the geographically isolated subspecies has not been evaluated, and this should be the focus of future research.