Moorland Francolin (Francolinus psilolaemus) is being split: list F. elgonensis 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.

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.

References:

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.

Related posts:

  1. Shelley’s Francolin (Francolinus shelleyi) is being split: list F. whytei as Near Threatened?
  2. Archived 2011-2012 topics: Grey-striped Francolin (Francolinus griseostriatus): downlist to Least Concern?
  3. Red-necked Falcon (Falco chicquera) is being split: list F. chicquera as Near Threatened and F. ruficollis as Least Concern?
  4. White-crested Hornbill (Tropicranus albocristatus) is being split: list T. albocristatus as Near Threatened?
  5. Piping Hornbill (Bycanistes fistulator) is being split: list B. fistulator as Near Threatened?
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3 Responses to Moorland Francolin (Francolinus psilolaemus) is being split: list F. elgonensis as Near Threatened?

  1. Anteneh Shimelis says:

    The moorland habitat of F. psilolaemus in Ethiopia is under intense pressure. The species survives in few areas such as the Bale Mountains National Park, in the south east and Simen Mountains National Park, in the extreme north and Guasa reserve in the central highlands. Grazing and conversion of land for agricultural purposes are the main drivers of the population decline the species is experiencing. As the species likes heathland which is the prime grazing land in the highlands where the density of live stock is the highest in the country loss of habitat and disturbance of its breeding activities including damage to nesting sites are highly likely. My opinion is if we take the rapid loss of the habitat of the species as an indicator of the decline in the population of the species then we may need to look in to the threat status the species is currently under. My opinion is the species is worse than least concern and the habitat destruction on the ground (that can be verified by satellite image analysis) warrants to declare it as vulnerable.

  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:

    F. psilolaemus as Near Threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd

    F. elgonensis as Near Threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd

    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.

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