Based on comparisons of skeletons from 228 species of sparrows (Embelizinae
), we detected 24 characters that were useful for generic separations. Of t
hese 19 quantitative characters were used in a detrended correspondence ana
lysis (DCA) ordination. Presence or absence of a lacrimal bane, degree of i
nflation of the squamosal area, length of the lateral process of the latero
sphenoid, ratio of ulna length to femur length, length of the skull, and pr
emaxilla length-to-width ratio were the most informative characters. The fi
rst two axes of the DCA clearly grouped most genera. Based on our analysis
of these skeletal characters, we recommend the following changes to the cla
ssification of Paynter (1970): Sporophila obscure belongs in Tiaris; Enrber
izoides ypiranganus is a valid species; Pselliophorus and Pezopetes should
be lumped with Atlapetes; and Torreornis and Oriturus should be lumped with
Aimophila. In addition, a different sequence of genera should be adopted.
Two groups of genera are distinct: seedeaters and North American sparrows.
A third group, South American grassland finches, overlaps with the first tw