Archived 2014 discussion: Buff-rumped Woodpecker (Meiglyptes tristis) is being split: list M. tristis as Endangered?

This is part of a consultation on the Red List implications of extensive changes to BirdLife’s taxonomy for non-passerines

Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish the HBW-BirdLife Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, building off the Handbook of the Birds of the World series, and BirdLife’s annually updated taxonomic checklist.

The new Checklist will be based on the application of criteria for recognising species limits described by Tobias et al. (2010). Full details of the specific scores and the basis of these for each new taxonomic revision will be provided in the Checklist.

Following publication, an open and transparent mechanism will be established to allow people to comment on the taxonomic revisions or suggest new ones, and provide new information of relevance in order to inform regular updates. We are also actively seeking input via a discussion topic here regarding some potential taxonomic revisions that currently lack sufficient information.

The new Checklist will form the taxonomic basis of BirdLife’s assessments of the status of the world’s birds for the IUCN Red List. The taxonomic changes that will appear in volume 1 of the checklist (for non-passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2014 Red List update, with the remainder, and those for passerines (which will appear in volume 2 of the checklist), to be incorporated into subsequent Red List updates.

Preliminary Red List assessments have been carried out for the newly split or lumped taxa. We are now requesting comments and feedback on these preliminary assessments.

Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis is being split into M. tristis and M. grammithorax, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, M. tristis (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as Least Concern on the basis that it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria. This species was estimated to have an extremely large range, and hence did not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence of less than 20,000 km2, combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appeared to be negative, the decline was not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it was not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).

M. tristis (as defined following the taxonomic change) is endemic to western Java, where it occupies a variety of forest and woodland habitats, apparently including modified areas (Winkler et al. 1995, del Hoyo et al. 2002). It may qualify as Endangered under criterion C2a(ii), on the basis that there are likely to be fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, based on the species’s scarcity, probably forming a single subpopulation, which is inferred to be in on-going decline owing to the overall negative effects of continued deforestation and other forms of habitat modification.

M. grammithorax is found in the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo (and several of their satellite islands), where it occupies primary and secondary forest, preferring forest edges and clearings, and is found in other modified habitats such as plantations and orchards (Winkler et al. 1995, del Hoyo et al. 2002). It is likely to warrant listing as Least Concern, on the basis that it is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria.

Comments on these suggested categories are invited and further information would be welcomed.


del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2002) Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 7: Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Tobias, J. A., Seddon, N., Spottiswoode, C. N., Pilgrim, J. D., Fishpool, L. D. C. and Collar, N. J. (2010) Quantitative criteria for species delimitation. Ibis 152: 724–746.

Winkler, H., Christie, D. A. and Nurney, D. (1995) Woodpeckers: a guide to the woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks of the world. Robertsbridge, U.K.: Pica Press.

Related posts:

  1. Archived 2012-2013 topics: Dark-rumped Swift (Apus acuticauda): uplist to Endangered?
  2. Archived 2014 discussion: White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos) is being split: list D. owstoni as Endangered?
  3. Archived 2014 discussion: Blue-rumped Parrot (Psittinus cyanurus) is being split: list P. abbotti as Vulnerable and P. cyanurus as Near Threatened?
  4. Archived 2011-2012 topics: Buff-browed Chachalaca (Ortalis superciliaris): downlist to Least Concern?
  5. Archived 2014 discussion: Crested Serpent-eagle (Spilornis cheela) is being split: list S. minimus as Near Threatened? (Discussion now being closed)
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3 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: Buff-rumped Woodpecker (Meiglyptes tristis) is being split: list M. tristis as Endangered?

  1. Martjan Lammertink says:

    I agree that Meiglyptes grammithorax should be listed in the Least Concern category because it is common and persists in good numbers in disturbed habitats and forest fragments. Meiglyptes tristis on Java however seems to be amazingly rare. Van Balen (1999) did not record it in any of the 19 Javan forest fragments he surveyed whereas all other 12 woodpecker species on Java were recorded in between 2 and 10 of the fragments. eBird has only one record of Meiglyptes tristis (from Cibodas botanical garden in 1986) compared to e.g. 2 records of Hemicircus concretus concretus and 15 records of Javan Trogon (Harpactes reinwardtii) in eBird. Xeno-canto has 14 recordings of grammithorax, none of tristis. Similarly, has 34 photos of grammithorax, none of tristis. So yes tristis may have under 2,500 mature individuals globally and may qualify for Endangered status.

    Balen, S. van. 1999. Birds on fragmented islands: persistence in the forests of Java and Bali. PhD thesis, Universiteit Wageningen.

  2. Joe Taylor says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information and comments posted above, our preliminary proposals for the 2014 Red List would be to treat:

    M. tristis as Endangered under criterion C2a(ii)

    M. grammithorax as Least Concern

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 31 March, after which recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in mid-2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  3. Andy Symes says:

    Recommended categorisations to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there have been no changes to our preliminary proposals for the 2014 Red List status of these species.

    The final categorisations will be published later in 2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.