The initial deadline for comments on this topic is 10 March 2014, and therefore later than for most other topics currently under discussion.
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.
Black Parrot Coracopsis nigra is being split into C. nigra and C. barklyi (incorporating sibilans), following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010), as well as consultation of the genetic study by Kundu et al. (2012) and subsequent comment on this by Joseph et al. (2012).
Prior to the taxonomic change, C. nigra (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 Red List criteria.
C. barklyi (incorporating sibilans) is resident on Praslin, with occasional records on Curieuse (c.1 km north of Praslin), Seychelles (Reuleaux et al. 2013), and resident on Grand Comoro and Anjouan in the Comoros (Ekstrom 2013).
Point count surveys conducted on Praslin in 2010 and 2011 found a density of 0.14-0.24 individuals/ha, resulting in a total population estimate of 520-900 individuals (95% confidence intervals) obtained through distance sampling methodology (Reuleaux et al. 2013). No individuals were detected on Curieuse during point counts over four days and supplementary fieldwork, thus it is assumed that there is no resident population there (Reuleaux et al. 2013).
Prior to the surveys by Reuleaux et al. (2013), the most recent population estimate on Praslin was of 645 individuals (95% confidence intervals: 404-1,034 individuals), using distance sampling at 39 random points (Walford 2008). However, this study was deemed to have several methodological and analytical constraints, which meant that assumptions of the distance sampling method were not met (Walford 2008, Reuleaux et al. 2013), resulting in an estimate range that was considered too broad to serve as a basis for conservation planning (Reuleaux et al. 2013).
After reviewing recent survey results, Rocamora and Laboudallan (2013) estimate a total breeding population of fewer than 200 pairs, suggesting that there could be fewer than 400 mature individuals.
A review of previous survey results indicates that the Seychelles population has recovered from a low point of c.30-50 individuals in the late 1960s, increasing until the at least the turn of the century, with uncertainty over the trend since then (Reuleaux et al. 2013, Rocamora and Laboudallan 2013). This and the most recent population estimates have led to the recommendation that the race barklyi qualifies as Vulnerable under criteria D1 and D2, on the basis that it is estimated to have a population of fewer than 1,000 mature individuals which is probably increasing, and that the species is estimated to have a tiny range rendering it susceptible to the impacts of stochastic events and human activities (such that it could qualify as Critically Endangered or Extinct within one or two generations) (Reuleaux et al. 2013, Rocamora and Laboudallan 2013).
The most serious current threats to the Seychelles population include diseases such as Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease, competition from introduced bird species for food and nest-sites, and habitat destruction caused by fires, with potential threats including persecution, pesticides, netting of bat species and inbreeding (reviewed by Rocamora and Laboudallan 2013).
On the Comoros, C. barklyi sibilans is described as rare in the small, degraded and declining area of habitat on Anjouan, and present over a limited part of Mt Karthala on Grande Comoro, where it is threatened by forest destruction (Ekstrom 2013). Louette et al. (2004, 2008) describe the species as relatively common throughout the forest on Mt Karthala, and occurring in low numbers on Anjouan. The populations on Grande Comoro and Anjouan have apparently not been quantified, thus information is requested on the likely population sizes on those islands.
C. barklyi (incorporating sibilans) could qualify as Vulnerable under criterion C2a(i), if the global population includes fewer than 10,000 mature individuals, with no more than 1,000 mature individuals estimated to be in each subpopulation, and an overall continuing population decline estimated, inferred or projected.
The Extent of Occurrence for C. barklyi is estimated at c.1,500 km2; however, there is uncertainty over the level of habitat fragmentation and the trend in the species’s total area of habitat, thus the applicability of criterion B1 is not clear. If the species’s habitat is judged to be very or severely fragmented (approaching or more than 50% of remaining habitat existing in patches too small to support viable populations) or the species is judged to occur at 10 or fewer locations, or approaching as few as 10 locations, and there is an on-going decline in the overall area, extent or quality of suitable habitat, the species may qualify as Near Threatened, or under a higher threat category. It should be noted that under the IUCN Red List criteria, locations are defined according to the most serious plausible threat to a species and the area over which all individuals could be rapidly impacted by a single threatening event. For example, a species most threatened by localised habitat loss will be considered to occur at numerous locations, but a species endemic to an island or archipelago that is most threatened by weather events such as cyclones will be considered to occur at one or very few locations.
C. nigra (as defined following the taxonomic change, and incorporating race libs) is widespread in Madagascar, where it generally occupies a variety of forest, woodland and savanna habitats, including modified areas (Juniper and Parr 1998, Ekstrom 2013). It is described as generally common and, despite sometimes intense persecution because of its pest status and for food and pets, the species does not appear to be threatened and occurs in many protected areas (Juniper and Parr 1998, Ekstrom 2013). Its population appears to be stable, although deforestation may be driving a negative trend (Ekstrom 2013). It is suggested that this species be listed as being of Least Concern, on the basis that it is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN Red List criteria.
Comments are invited and further information would be welcomed.
Ekstrom, J. M. M. (2013) Lesser Vasa Parrot Coracopsis nigra. Pp 531-534 in Safford, R. J. and Hawkins, A. F. A. (Eds.) The Birds of Africa. Volume VIII: The Malagasy Region. London, UK: Christopher Helm.
Joseph, L., Toon, A., Schirtzinger, E. E., Wright, T. F. and Schodde, R. (2012) A revised nomenclature and classification for family-group taxa of parrots (Psittaciformes). Zootaxa 3205: 26–40.
Juniper, T. and Parr, M. (1998) Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Robertsbridge, UK: Pica Press.
Kundu, S., Jones, C. G., Prys-Jones, R. P. and Groombridge, J. J. (2012) The evolution of the Indian Ocean parrots (Psittaciformes): Extinction, adaptive radiation and eustacy. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62: 296–305.
Louette, M., Abdérémane, H., Yahaya, I. and Meirte, D. (2008) Atlas des oiseaux nicheurs de la Grand Comore, de Mohéli et d’Anjouan. Studies in Afrotropical Zoology 294. MRAC: Tervuren, Belguim.
Louette, M., Meirte, D. and Jocqué, R. (eds) (2004) La faune terrestre de l’archipel des Comores. Studies in Afrotropical Zoology 293. MRAC: Tervuren, Belgium.
Reuleaux, A., Bunbury, N., Villard, P. and Waltert, M. (2013) Status, distribution and recommendations for monitoring of the Seychelles black parrot Coracopsis (nigra) barklyi. Oryx 47(4): 561–568.
Rocamora, G. and Laboudallan, V. (2013) Seychelles Black Parrot Coracopsis barklyi. Pp 529-531 in Safford, R. J. and Hawkins, A. F. A. (Eds.) The Birds of Africa. Volume VIII: The Malagasy Region. London, UK: Christopher Helm.
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.
Walford, E. P. (2008) An insight into the ecology of an isolated Psittacid: the Seychelles Black Parrot (Coracopsis nigra barklyi). MSc dissertation. Norwich, UK: University of East Anglia.
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