Two subspecies currently recognized:
aequatorialis Gould 1857; type locality Archidona, Ecuador
Occurs in the Andes of Colombia, and on the east slope of the Andes of Ecuador; records from northern Peru, north of the Río Marañón (Parker et al. 1985), presumably refer to this subspecies as well.
See Detailed Appearance
chlorolaemus Berlepsch and Stolzmann 1902; type locality Ocobamba, Perú
Occurs on the east slope of the Andes of Peru and Bolivia.
Very similar to nominate aequatorialis; distinguished "on average differences ... similar to aequatorialis but underparts biscay-green with little or no tawny suffusion; throat more greenish blue" (Chapman 1923: 35).
This taxon was classified as a separate species by most early authorities (e.g. Cory 1918, Chapman 1923), until Peters (1945) included it within a broadly defined, polytypic Momotus momota; as recognized by Peters, Momotus momota also included the taxa currently assigned to Momotus coeruleiceps (Blue-crowned Motmot), Momotus subrufescens (Whooping Motmot), Momotus bahamensis (Trinidad Motmot), and Momotus momota (Amazonian Motmot). The Peters concept of a broadly defined species, with a geographic range extending from Mexico south to southern Brazil, was widely followed for many years.
Stiles (2009) conducted a review of morphological and vocal characters of most members of the Momotus momota complex. He identified four discrete groups, corresponding to Momotus coeruleiceps, Momotus subrufescens, Momotus momota, and Momotus aequatorialis, each of which in his view easily merited species rank. With particular reference to aequatorialis, Stiles (2009: 56) noted that "aequatorialis differs from all other members of the complex in size and proportions, in several aspects of its plumage pattern, in its primary song and in its ecology, being basically a highland bird whereas all other South American taxa are lowland species."