The antbirds are a large passerine family found across subtropical and tropical Central and South America. Hybridization has been documented in several genera.
Based on mitochondrial DNA, Brumfield (2005) described several hybrid zones between subspecies of the Variable Antshrike (Thamnophilus caerulescens). At Amazonian headwaters, hybrids between the following species pairs have been confirmed genetically (Weir et al., 2015):
- Rondonia Warbling Antbird (Hypocnemis ochrogyna) x Spix’ Warbling Antbird ( striata)
- White-breasted Antbird (Rhegmatorhina hoffmannsi) x Bare-eyed Antbird ( gymnops)
- Scale-backed Antbird (Willisornis poecilinotus) x Xinger Antbird ( vidua)
In 1951, American ornithologist Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee described a new bird species: the Argus Bare-eyed (Phlegopsis barringeri). This new species of antbird was based on one specimen, collected on the Rio Rumiyaco in Colombia. Later, Willis (1979) suggested that the specimen might be a hybrid between Black-spotted Bare-eye (P. nigromaculata) and Red-winged Bare-eye (P. erythroptera). These two species overlap from eastern Colombia to northern Bolivia. This suggestion was tested by Graves (1992), who reexamined the original specimen and compared it to the two putative parental species. His conclusion: it’s a hybrid!
Brumfield, R. T. (2005). Mitochondrial variation in Bolivian populations of the variable antshrike (Thamnophilus caerulescens). Auk 122, 414-432.
Graves, G. (1992). Diagnosis of a hybrid antbird (Phlegopsis nigromaculata× Phlegopsis erythroptera) and the rarity of hybridization among suboscines. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 105, 838-840.
Weir, J. T., Faccio, M. S., Pulido-Santacruz, P., Barrera-Guzman, A. O. & Aleixo, A. (2015). Hybridization in headwater regions, and the role of rivers as drivers of speciation in Amazonian birds. Evolution 69, 1823-1834.
Willis, E. O. (1979). Comportamento e ecologia da maede-taoca, Phlegopsis nigromaculata (d’Orbigny & Lafresnaye)(Aves, Formicariidae). Rev. Brasil Biol 39, 117-159.