The geographic range of the Scale-backed Antbird (Willisornis poecilinotus) encompasses Amazonia. Seven currently defined subspecies are distinguished from one another by diagnostic plumage characters except for one pair. Six pairs of subspecies are apparently parapatric and lack a known barrier to intergradation in at least a portion of their contact zone; yet confirmed hybrids are known only for one pair in one location. An analysis of >350 recordings, however, found vocal differences among them insufficient to recommend elevating subspecies to the species level with one exception. Populations in southeastern Amazonia should be considered a distinct species, Willisornis vidua (Hellmayr), Xingu Scale-backed Antbird, on the basis of their distinct loudsongs, raspy call series, and contact calls. Within the widespread Willisornis poecilinotus, Common Scale-backed Antbird, the remaining instances of parapatry without extensive intergradation provide a focus for future fieldwork to define interrelationships in contact zones and mechanisms of species recognition that may be sustaining them on independent evolutionary paths.
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