Phaethornis longuemareus aethopyga was described by John T. Zimmer in 1950 and treated as a valid subspecies until it was proposed that the three known specimens were hybrids between P. ruber and P. rupurumii amazonicus. On the basis of some recently collected specimens, we reevaluated the validity of P. l. aethopyga. Despite showing some differences related to age and sex, all specimens agree in the general plumage pattern and are fully diagnosable when compared with any other taxon of the genus. The hypothesis of a hybrid origin becomes unsustainable when one notes that (1) P. l. aethopyga has characters that are unique and absent in the purported parental species, such as the white outer margins at the base of the rectrices; and (2) P. l. aethopyga occurs far from the distribution of one of the alleged parental species. Furthermore, field data show that P. l. aethopyga has attributes typical of a valid and independent taxon, such as lekking behavior. Therefore, given its overall diagnosis, P. aethopyga could at least be treated as a phylogenetic species. Yet its morphological and vocal distinctiveness with respect to other Phaethornis spp. in the “Pygmornis group” is greater than that observed between some species pairs traditionally regarded as separate biological species within the group, which supports its recognition as a species under the biological species concept.
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Vol. 126 • No. 3