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New species of wood-wren

An international team of ornithologists has described a new species of wood-wren Henicorhina from cloud forest of the high Andes of south-western Colombia. The species was named Munchique Wood-Wren H negreti after the mountain (Cerro Munchique) where it was discovered (Salaman, P, Coopmans, P, Donegan, T M, Mulligan, M, Cortés, A, Hilty, S L & Ortega, L A 2003. A new species of Wood-Wren (Troglodytidae: Henicorhina) from the western Andes of Colombia. Ornitol Col 1: 4-20). As well as being an exciting new discovery, this species breaks new ground because it is the first new bird species to be described electronically in the first issue of the new on-line bird journal Ornitología Colombiana. British and Colombian ornithologists, working with the Colombian bird conservation organization Fundación ProAves, discovered the new species during surveys on Cerro Munchique in Colombia's western Andean range. They found that wood-wrens in Munchique National Park had a distinctive flute-like song, quite different from that of other similar looking wood-wrens found elsewhere in South America, as well as distinctive plumage features and biometrics. The new species is found only in difficult-to-access forest typified by perpetual cloud in the highest elevations of the Munchique massif. Stephen Hilty, author of the Field guide to the birds of Colombia (1986), first noted the distinct vocalizations of these wood-wrens in 1978 and heard the birds again in the early 1980s. In the early 1990's, Paul Coopmans noticed the peculiar song during his studies in the area. It then took another 10 years to finally solve the wood-wren puzzle of Munchique. The new wood-wren is specialized to living in densely saturated forest typified by persistent low-level cloud above 2250 m on the pacific slope of Cerro Munchique. The widespread Grey-breasted Wood-Wren H leucophrys - which occurs in coastal mountains from Mexico down to Bolivia - replaces Munchique Wood-Wren in less densely saturated forest below 2250 m on the pacific slope (subspecies H l brunneiceps) and also on the much dryer eastern slope of the massif (subspecies H l leucophrys). Two other species of wood-wren are known: Bar-winged Wood-Wren H leucoptera was first described in 1977 and occurs very locally in northern Peru, whereas White-breasted Wood-Wren H leucosticta is widespread in most parts of northern South America.
Munchique Wood-Wren is confined to the highest elevations of just one mountain and, as its population and geographical range are extremely small, is proposed for the 'Critically Endangered' status. Due to its highly specific ecological requirements, it is potentially threatened by ecological changes and by illegal deforestation, which continues to occur within Munchique National Park. Fundación ProAves has recently entered into an agreement with Colombia's Environment Ministry to improve management and protection of the habitat of the newly discovered species.
The species' scientific name honours Alavaro José Negret (1949-98), one of Colombia's leading naturalists and ornithologists. He was a professor at Cauca University in Popayán, Colombia, and later became director of the Natural History Museum of Cauca University (MHNUC).
The International Code for Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) specifies that descriptions of new species must be made in 'published work', which does not include publications on the worldwide web (www). The description of Munchique Wood-Wren has been published in an electronic on-line journal. However, Ornitología Colombiana has an ISBN number, meaning that a hard copy of it is printed and sent to copyright libraries. The journal can also be printed out by others and therefore meets the requirements set by the ICZN. This is the first time that a new species for science has been published electronically and in accordance with the ICZN rules. For more information on the Asociación Colombiana de Ornitología (ACO) and its journal Ornitología Colombiana, see; the complete article can be viewed under 'Revista'.