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.
Moorland Francolin Francolinus psilolaemus is being split into F. psilolaemus and F. elgonensis, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).
Prior to this taxonomic change, F. psilolaemus (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as being of Least Concern, on the basis that it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria.
F. elgonensis occupies a restricted and fragmented range in central Kenya and eastern Uganda, where it inhabits high altitude heathland, moorland and grassland (del Hoyo et al. 1994). It has been noted that the species may be overhunted for food in Uganda, although it occurs in Mt Elgon Forest Reserve, which appears to provide effective protection (del Hoyo et al. 1994); this site and Mau Narok are where the species appears to be most common (Madge and McGowan 2002).
It is suggested that this species could qualify as Near Threatened. It may qualify as such under criterion A, if evidence suggests that a moderately rapid population decline (typically 25-29% over three generations, estimated to be c.12 years for this species) has occurred over the past three generations or is projected over the next three generations. The species also potentially qualifies as Near Threatened under criterion B, if its habitat is characterised as very fragmented, or it is known from fewer than 20 locations, and declines are taking place in its range, habitat or population. It may also qualify as Near Threatened under criterion C2, if its population approaches as few as 10,000 mature individuals, or numbers fewer than 10,000, dependent also on its subpopulation structure (i.e. the maximum number of mature individuals in one subpopulation or the percentage of all mature individuals in the largest subpopulation).
F. psilolaemus (as defined following the taxonomic change) is endemic to Ethiopia, where it inhabits montane heathland, moorland and grassland (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Madge and McGowan 2002), with an Extent of Occurrence estimated at c.47,100 km2. It is variously described as locally frequent, locally common, generally uncommon and rare in some areas (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Madge and McGowan 2002, Redman et al. 2011). It has been noted that pressures on its habitat may be a problem (del Hoyo et al. 1994). It is suggested, however, that the species be deemed as being of 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, especially on the population size and trend, subpopulation structure and level of habitat fragmentation relevant to F. elgonensis.
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.
Madge, S. and McGowan, P. (2002) Pheasants, partridges and grouse: including buttonquails, sandgrouse and allies. London: Christopher Helm (Helm Identification Guide).
Redman, N., Stevenson, T. and Fanshawe, J. (2011) Birds of the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Socotra. Second edition. London, UK: Christopher Helm (Helm Field Guides).
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.