eWestern Birds

The Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists

Vol. 47, No. 4
November 2016
Western Field Ornithologists

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Fonseca Mangrove Rail: A New Subspecies from Honduras
James M. Maley, John E. McCormack, Whitney L. E. Tsai, Emiko M. Schwab, John van Dort, Roselvy C. Juárez, and Matthew D. Carling

ABSTRACT: Large rails were discovered in the mangroves along the Pacific coast of Honduras in 2010, and confirmed as local breeders in 2012. Their taxonomic affinity was unclear because the region is far from yet between the ranges of several other species in the Clapper Rail complex. So we collected eight specimens in July 2013, recorded their vocalizations, video-recorded a duetting pair, and documented a nest. By sequencing a portion of their mitochondrial DNA we were able to place them unambiguously within the Mangrove Rail (Rallus longirostris). The specimens differ in plumage, being the only Mangrove Rails with a dusky breast band and light gray edging to their back feathers. Males, at least, are significantly larger than other male Mangrove Rails. We found one base pair among 650 of mtDNA in which the Honduras specimens differ from specimens from Peru and Venezuela. Therefore, we describe this population as a new subspecies, the Fonseca Mangrove Rail (R. l. berryorum). This discovery extends the Mangrove Rail’s known range ~1500 km northwest along the Pacific coast.

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