Shelley’s Francolin (Francolinus shelleyi) is being split: list F. whytei 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.

Shelley’s Francolin Francolinus shelleyi is being split into F. shelleyi and F. whytei, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, F. shelleyi (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 has an extremely large range, and hence does 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 decreasing, 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).

F. whytei occurs in north-eastern Zambia, northern Malawi and south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where it inhabits montane and hilly grasslands and open woodland, often preferring rocky areas (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Madge and McGowan 2002, Dowsett et al. 2008). It may qualify as Near Threatened under criteria A2c+3c+4c; C2a(ii), on the basis that it is likely to have a moderately small population, which could be in moderately rapid decline (approaching 30% over three generations [c.12 years]), owing to on-going habitat fragmentation and degradation, caused by over-grazing and continual burning (del Hoyo et al. 1994), for example.

F. shelleyi (as defined following this taxonomic change) occurs patchily from Kenya south to eastern South Africa, where it inhabits montane and hilly grasslands, open woodland and rocky areas (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Madge and McGowan 2002, Dowsett et al. 2008). 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.

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.

Dowsett, R. J., Aspinwall, D. R. and Dowsett-Lemaire, F. (2008) The Birds of Zambia: An atlas and handbook. Belgium: Tauraco Press & Aves.

Madge, S. and McGowan, P. (2002) Pheasants, partridges and grouse: including buttonquails, sandgrouse and allies. London: Christopher Helm (Helm Identification Guide).

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

  1. Andy Symes says:

    The following comments were received from Françoise Dowsett-Lemaire on 20 August 2013:

    Scleroptila shelleyi/whytei. The form whytei is in the N. half of Zambia where it is considered unthreatened: its range includes the Muchinga escarpment (a wild area still), the Mafinga range (where it occurs in montane grassland, unthreatened and uninhabited), the Nyika Plateau (a national park). Also occurs in the N. half of Malawi, on the South Viphya Plateau (largely uninhabited), North Viphya Plateau, Nyika Plateau (a national park), Misuku Hills (montane grassland) and adjacent highland areas where its habitat is not particularly under pressure.
    Because of its highland distribution and habitat, this form does not appear to be threatened.

  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. shelleyi as Least Concern

    F. whytei 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.

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