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Comprehensive Description

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Comprehensive Description

The Olive-backed Forest Robin (Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus) was described in 2008 (Schmidt et al. 2008), based on specimens collected several years earlier in southwestern Gabon (west central Africa). It is a common species at the sites where it has been observed, although like other Stiphrornis it is unobtrusive and its presence is recognized mainly by its call. It inhabits primary lowland forest and forages on or near the ground like the other Stiphrornis species of central and western Africa. Unique plumage features of the new species include the male’s bright orange chin, throat, and breast; creamy yellow belly; olive green back and rump; and gray flanks. Analyses of mitochondrial DNA sequence divergence among Stiphrornis species is consistent with the assessment based on its distinct physical characteristics that the Olive-backed Forest Robin is a new species. A search of museum collections revealed a single specimen of Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus, collected by P. Rougeot in Tchibanga, Gabon, on 11 Nov 1953 (Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris; NMHN 1954-56). At the time, this specimen was recognized as unusual and confusing, though apparently not as a potential new species (Berlioz 1954, cited in Schmidt et al. 2008). (Schmidt et al. 2008)

Schmidt et al. (2008) note that detailed breeding studies of this species, and extensive studies of vocalizations, have yet to be carried out but should be informative regarding interspecific interactions and the potential for hybridization. Further genetic sampling and analyses should better resolve relationships within the genus and identify any possible hybrid zones.

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