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Obscure Berrypecker Melanocharis arfakiana
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Little is known about this species, and there is considerable uncertainty over its true distribution, population size and trends. Its inconspicuous nature means that it has probably been widely overlooked, and it may well prove to be not threatened. However, until further information is available, it is not possible to evaluate its risk of extinction.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
Melanocharis arfakiana is known from two specimens and a series of more recent sight records from New Guinea (Papua, formerly Irian Jaya, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea). The specimens were collected in 1867 in the Arfak Mts and in 1933 from 950 m near the upper Angabunga River (Coates 1990). The recent sightings have been from 640-1,100 m in the Tabubil area, where it is not uncommon, Boana on the Huon Peninsula, where it is common in degraded forest, Keki Lodge near Madang, and the Kokoda Trail near Port Moresby (Murray 1988, Coates 1990, Gregory 1993, Gregory 1995a, B. Whitney in litt. 2000, P. Gregory in litt. 2011, J. Hornbuckle in litt. 2011). Specimens from Tabubil and Boana differ slightly in plumage but are probably both of this species (P. Gregory in litt. 1999, B. Whitney in litt. 2000). It may be a genuinely extremely rare species, perhaps compressed into a narrow altitudinal belt between ecologically similar congeners (Coates 1990, P. Gregory in litt. 1994); however, although existing records suggest that the species is patchy and localised in occurrence, it could have been overlooked in many areas owing to its cryptic nature, and may in fact be widespread (del Hoyo et al. 2008, P. Gregory in litt. 2011).

Population justification
This is a poorly known species and no population estimates are available.

Trend justification
Given the paucity of sightings and uncertainty over its abundance, the population trend is not known. The species' apparent tolerance of degraded forest may indicate that the population trend is stable, but more information is required.

It is a montane forest species, ranging from 640-1,100 m, and appears to be tolerant of secondary habitat. It feeds on berries and probably arthropods. It is thought to breed between May and October (del Hoyo et al. 2008).

Forests in these geographical and altitudinal ranges are under some threat from logging and clearance for agriculture. Habitat at Tabubil is being heavily degraded (P. Gregory in litt. 2011). Consequently, the species may be undergoing a slow decline (G. Dutson in litt. 2011). However, its tolerance of degraded forest and recent discovery in widely scattered sites suggest that it is not threatened (B. Whitney in litt. 2000).

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted actions are known. The species has been recorded in Varirata National Park (P. Gregory in litt. 2011). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey historical sites and potentially suitable habitat. Study its ecological requirements, tolerance of habitat degradation and threats.

Coates, B. J. 1990. The birds of Papua New Guinea, 2: passerines. Dove, Alderley, Australia.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2008. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 13: Penduline-tits to Shrikes. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Gregory, P. 1993. An unidentified berrypecker Melanocharis sp. from the Ok Tedi area. Muruk 6(1): 33.

Gregory, P. 1995. Further studies of the birds of the Ok Tedi area, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. Muruk 7(1): 1-38.

Murray, A. 1988. A study of the birds of the Tabubil region, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. Muruk 3(3): 89-117.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Dutson, G., Khwaja, N., Symes, A., Taylor, J.

Dutson, G., Gregory, P., Hornbuckle, J., Whitney, B.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Melanocharis arfakiana. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Data Deficient
Family Melanocharitidae (Berrypeckers)
Species name author (Finsch, 1900)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 9,004 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species