Cinnamon-bellied Imperial-pigeon (Ducula basilica) is being split: list D. obiensis as Near Threatened?

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.

Cinnamon-bellied Imperial-pigeon Ducula basilica is being split into D. basilica and D. obiensis, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, D. basilica (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. Although this species was estimated to have a restricted range, it was not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence [EOO] 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). The population trend appeared to be stable, and hence the species did not 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).

D. obiensis is endemic to Obi Island, where it inhabits primary, secondary and degraded forest, and may occur in cultivated areas (Gibbs et al. 2001). It could qualify as Near Threatened under criterion B1ab(ii,iii,v), if its habitats are considered to be very fragmented (approaching 50% in patches too small to support viable populations), as it occupies a very small range (with an EOO estimated at c.2,500 km2), in which habitat quality is in decline, and a decline in the population is inferred on the basis of this and potential levels of hunting pressure.

D. basilica (as defined following the taxonomic change) is found on the North Moluccan islands of Morotaio, Halmahera, Kasiruta, Ternate and Bacan, where it inhabits dense forest, including selectively logged, degraded and secondary forest, forest edge, and only rarely occurs in agricultural areas (Gibbs et al. 2001). 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 are invited on these suggested categories and further information would be welcomed.


Gibbs, D., Barnes, E. and Cox, J. (2001) Pigeons and doves: a guide to the pigeons and doves of the world. Robertsbridge, U.K.: Pica Press.

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.

Related posts:

  1. Archived 2011-2012 topics: Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca): downlist to Near Threatened?
  2. Island Collared-dove (Streptopelia bitorquata) is being split: list S. dusumieri as Near Threatened?
  3. Brown Hawk-owl (Ninox scutulata) is being split: list N. randi as Near Threatened?
  4. Silvery Kingfisher (Alcedo argentata) is being split and Indigo-banded Kingfisher (A. cyanopectus) is being split: list A. argentata and A. flumenicola as Vulnerable and A. nigrirostris as Near Threatened?
  5. Common Flameback (Dinopium javanense) is being split: list D. everetti as Near Threatened?
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4 Responses to Cinnamon-bellied Imperial-pigeon (Ducula basilica) is being split: list D. obiensis as Near Threatened?

  1. Marc Thibault says:

    During a short expedition I undertook on 7-21 March 2010 in Obi, Ducula obiensis was fairly commonly seen and heard in forested areas from 150 m to 1,210 m (the latter is the highest elevation we reached – the altitudinal range of D. obiensis might extend further up). This taxon was recorded in primary forest, in selectively logged forest and in fragmented patches of degraded forests, suggesting that it is tolerant to habitat disturbance. In the areas visited (Jikotamo, Soligi and logging concession on the west coast and highlands in the centre of the island), I failed to find evidence of pigeon hunting activity.

  2. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were received from Burung Indonesia on 27 February 2014:

    Brief 5 days visits were conducted by Burung Indonesia in Obi Island (2010), during this visit, no Cinnamon-bellied Imperial-pigeon has been observed. Observations were made around the settlements, mixed garden, secondary forest, and primary forest, at an altitude of 0-380 m asl (Bashari & Rosyadi, in preparation).

    Listing of Ducula obiensis status to Near Threatened is possible, because little information is available on this species
    Bashari, H. and I. Rosyadi (in prep). Some Notes on Birds of Obi, North Moluccas, Indonesia.

  3. 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:

    D. basilica as Least Concern

    D. obiensis 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.

  4. 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.

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