New species of Barbet discovered in Peru

In the July issue of The Auk, Bird Division and University of Chicago (Committee on Evolutionary Biology) graduate student Ben Winger, Research Scientist Jason Weckstein, and colleagues describe a striking new species of bird, the Sirá Barbet (Capito fitzpatricki) from the eastern Andes of Northern Peru.  The bird was found on an expedition Ben and several colleagues conducted while they were still undergraduates at Cornell University, but Ben did much of the preparation of the new species description here in the museum.  Jason gathered DNA sequence data documenting the genetic distinctiveness of the barbet in the Pritzker Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and Evolution.  Ben is working on his doctorate using genomic approaches to understand genetic structure in Andean birds with Associate Curator of Birds, John Bates.  Jason is Principal Investigator on a new NSF grant to document birds and parasites across southern Amazonia.  The species name of the new barbet honors John Fitzpatrick, who addition to being Director of Cornell Laboratory for Ornithology, is also a former curator of birds here at The Field Museum, where in the 70’s and 80’s, he described several new bird species based on field work in the same general region of Peru. 

U of C and FMNH graduate student Ben Winger in the field in Peru.

News of the new species has appeared in Science Daily and in the Mail On-line among other outlets.