Archived 2014 discussion: White-crested Hornbill (Tropicranus albocristatus) is being split: list T. albocristatus 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.

White-crested Hornbill Tropicranus albocristatus is being split into T. albocristatus and T. cassini, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, T. albocristatus (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). 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).

T. albocristatus (as defined following the taxonomic change, and incorporating macrourus) occurs in West Africa, from southern Sierra Leone, east to Benin, where it inhabits primary forest as well as tall gallery and secondary forest and adjacent deciduous woodland (del Hoyo et al. 2001). It may warrant listing as Near Threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd, on the basis that it could be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline (approaching 30% over three generations [c.24 years]) owing to on-going deforestation and potential hunting pressure. It is not thought to be declining more rapidly than this because it shows some flexibility in its habitat requirements.

T. cassini occurs in Central-west Africa, from Nigeria, east to western Uganda and south to northern Angola, where it occupies a similar range of forest and woodland habitats (del Hoyo 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 on these suggested categories are invited and further information would be welcomed.


del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2001) Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. 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.

Related posts:

  1. Archived 2014 discussion: Scaly Kingfisher (Actenoides princeps) is being split: list A. regalis as Vulnerable or Endangered and A. princeps as Near Threatened?
  2. Archived 2014 discussion: Pheasant Pigeon (Otidiphaps nobilis) is being split: list O. insularis as Endangered and O. aruensis as Vulnerable?
  3. Archived 2014 discussion: Woodford’s Rail (Nesoclopeus woodfordi) is being split: list N. woodfordi as Vulnerable and N. immaculatus and N. tertius as Near Threatened?
  4. Archived 2014 discussion: Maroon-chinned Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus subgularis) is being split: list both P. subgularis and P. mangoliensis as Vulnerable and P. epia as Near Threatened?
  5. Archived 2014 discussion: Javan Frogmouth (Batrachostomus javensis) and Blyth’s Frogmouth (B. affinis) are being lumped as B. javensis: list the newly defined species as Near Threatened?
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5 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: White-crested Hornbill (Tropicranus albocristatus) is being split: list T. albocristatus as Near Threatened?

  1. Hugo Rainey says:

    T. albocristatus (and probably T. cassini) occurs in a broad range of habitats, including cocoa and coffee plantations with mature forest trees. Thus, the habitat available for this species is broader than the remaining extent of forest. I have not, however, observed it in woodland, north of the forest zone.

    The range and estimation of change in distribution over time should include the loss of forest as well as the gain in plantations with mature trees. If this still exceeds 30% in 24 years then near-threatened is likely.

  2. Jeremy Lindsell says:

    I think it is likely that this species qualifies as NT. Although Hugo is right that it can cope outside the forest and I’ve seen it in some really grotty habitat, I’m sure the areas where suitable mature trees are remaining in the farmland are also reducing even. This combined with the Upper Guinean range certainly puts it on a par with other NT forest species in the region.

  3. Andy Symes says:

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

    Tropicranus albocristatus. We don’t agree with the split of this Upper Guinea nominate race, and from what I heard I don’t think the decision has been made yet. In general, Tropicranus remains an adaptable species, which tolerates logging and forest degradation and enters the transition forest/savanna zone. Its distribution in Upper Guinea is continuous. It often feeds in association with monkeys but survives well in the absence of these. It is rather skulking and is not easily hunted. We don’t see an urgent need to classify this as NT.

  4. 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:

    T. albocristatus as Least Concern

    T. cassini 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.

  5. 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.