Archived 2010-2011 topics: Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner (Automolus rufipectus): newly-split and globally threatened?

Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner Automolus rufipectus has been split from A. rubiginosus following SACC (2009). It is restricted to the Santa Marta Mountains of northern Colombia, where it occurs in closed canopy primary subtropical forest, which is extremely fragmented and predominantly cleared for agriculture.

The species has been found in forest and thick second growth with dense undergrowth between 1,200-1,800 m, where it is fond of dark tangles and ravines (Krabbe 2008). It was widespread but uncommon on the San Lorenzo ridge occurring wherever there was suitable habitat but not considered common anywhere. All records are from the north-western and northern slopes of the Santa Marta Mountains, however there has been little ornithological exploration of remaining habitat in the southern slopes. Only a small part of its range is currently effectively protected (the El Dorado reserve).

Given its apparent tolerance of disturbed habitats the species may be best classified as Near Threatened or perhaps Vulnerable. Comments on the classification and further information on this species are welcome.

Krabbe, N. 2008. Vocal evidence for restitution of species rank to a Santa Marta endemic: Automolus rufipectus Bangs (Furnariidae), with comments on its generic affinities. Bulletin British Ornithologists’ Club 128: 219-227.

SACC (2009) Proposal 394: Treat Automolus rufipectus as a separate species from Automolus rubiginosus:

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One Response to Archived 2010-2011 topics: Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner (Automolus rufipectus): newly-split and globally threatened?

  1. Andy Symes says:

    Fundacion ProAves have provided the following information:

    This species is restricted to dense humid subtropical forests on the northern slope of the Santa Marta Mountains from 1,100 to 1,800 meters, although has been recorded seasonally down to 700 meters and occasionally to very rarely up to 2,100 meters and there is one specimen from the southern slope from 1946. It is uncommon and found locally by voice and playback in dense primary forest and dense regenerating forest (nesting in steep embankments). Territories are sporadic (approx 2-3 per km transect in suitable habitat).

    All records are from the north-western and northern slopes of the Santa Marta Mountains. However the statement is not true that “there has been little ornithological exploration of remaining habitat in the southern slopes.” The southern slopes are drier and unsuitable for this species while this region was heavily collected and surveyed in the past (when there was more forest and it was possibly more humid).

    The species is known from ~22 specimens from the San Lorenzo ridge region (partly now El Dorado Bird Reserve) and 17 specimens on the northern slope in Guajira Dept and one specimen from Pueblo Bello (Cesar Dept) in 1946. Todd and Carriker (1922) noted “…Confined to heavy forest,…. It is not abundant anywhere…”.

    El Dorado Bird Reserve remains the sole protected area for the species with approx 1,040 acres of suitable habitat for the species in the reserve with an estimated population of 40 territories. A recent expansion of 250 acres in 2010 aimed to encompass a core area of primary closed-canopy subtropical forest for the species.

    It preference for closed-canopy forest and dense understory is of concern – this habitat has been extremely fragmented and predominantly cleared for coffee plantations and pasturelands. Some overgrown coffee plantations and stream gullies are suitable for the species, but with increasing coffee and land prices, “wild overgrown areas” are increasing destroyed to maximize coffee production.

    The species is best classified as borderline Near-threatened to Vulnerable meeting criteria A2a+c, B1a+b(i,ii,iii) and with an estimated no. of mature individuals between 1,000-2,499 and decreasing.

    Fundacion ProAves (in press) The status of various threatened or potentially threatened birds in Colombia. Conservación Colombiana 14

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