Threat to the Amazonís birds greater than ever, Red List update reveals
The risk of extinction has increased substantially for nearly 100 species of Amazonian birds, reveals the 2012 IUCN Red List update for birds released today by BirdLife International. The new assessment is based on models projecting the extent and pattern of deforestation across the Amazon.
“We have previously underestimated the risk of extinction that many of Amazonia’s bird species are facing”, said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife’s Director of Science, Policy and Information. “However, given recent weakening of Brazilian forest law, the situation may be even worse than recent studies have predicted.”
Of particular concern are longer-lived species, such as Rio Branco Antbird Cercomacra carbonaria, for which even moderate rates of deforestation can be important. Some species, such as Hoary-throated Spinetail Synallaxis kollari, appear likely to lose more than 80% of their habitat over the coming decades and have been placed in the highest category of extinction risk – Critically Endangered.
The 2012 update is a comprehensive review, undertaken every four years, of all the world’s over 10,000 bird species. The update shows worrying news not just from the tropics but in Northern Europe too, where over a million Long-tailed Ducks Clangula hyemalis have disappeared from the Baltic Sea over the last 20 years, resulting in the species being uplisted to Vulnerable. The reasons for this decline are still not clear but the fortunes of another sea duck, Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca are even worse, with the species now being listed as Endangered.
“These figures are frightening. We’re pretty sure that the birds haven’t moved elsewhere, and the numbers represent a genuine population crash. The widespread nature of the declines point to the likelihood of environmental change across much of the arctic and sub-arctic regions where these species breed”, said Andy Symes, BirdLife’s Global Species Programme Officer.
In Africa, the White-backed and Rueppell's Vultures, Gyps africanus and G. rueppellii, are mirroring the fate of their Asian cousins, with rapid declines linked to poisoning, persecution and habitat loss. Both species have been reclassified as Endangered. Their declines have much wider impacts, since vultures play a key role in food webs by feeding on dead animals.
However, not all the news is bad. Restinga Antwren Formicivora littoralis, a small bird from coastal, south-east Brazil, has been downlisted from Critically Endangered, as new surveys have found it to be more widely distributed than previously thought. Its future also looks more secure now owing to the creation of a new protected area covering its core distribution.
There are also examples of a species’ fate being turned around, despite almost insurmountable odds. In the Cook Islands of the Pacific, the sustained recovery Raratonga Monarch Pomarea dimidiata, once one of the world’s rarest birds, has led to it being downlisted to Vulnerable. Intensive conservation action, particularly through control of alien invasive predators like black rats, has saved the species from extinction. The bird’s population is now about 380 individuals, over ten times bigger than at its low point, although continued conservation efforts are required.
“Such successes show the remarkable achievements that are possible where effort and dedication by conservationists and local communities are backed up with political support and adequate resources,” said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Global Research Coordinator.
“But the worrying projections for the Amazon emphasise the urgent need for governments to meet their international commitments by establishing comprehensive protected area networks that are adequately funded and effectively managed.”
“BirdLife are providing essential information to guide policy and conservation action for birds”, said Jane Smart, Global Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group. “It is clear that conservation works, but this update shows that more action needs to be taken if we are to protect these magnificent species which play an integral role in maintaining healthy ecosystems which not only the birds, but ourselves, are dependent upon for our survival.”
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Notes for Editors
- Total number of species recognised by BirdLife in the 2012 Red List update is 10,064. Number of species by category as follows: Extinct 130; Extinct in Wild 4; Critically Endangered 197; Endangered 389; Vulnerable 727; Near Threatened 880; Least Concern 7,677; Data Deficient 60.
2. The 2012 Red List represents one of BirdLife’s 4-yearly comprehensive updates to the information on the world’s birds. All ten thousand species have been reassessed, with their species factsheets, text accounts, data fields and Red List assessments updated using new published and unpublished information, as well as input from hundreds of reviewers (including many BirdLife Partners) to help ensure the information is up to date and as accurate as possible. Almost 300 species have had proposals to revise their status discussed on BirdLife’s web-based threatened bird discussion forums, and a number of taxonomic updates have been implemented. A total of 208 species have had their status revised, including 120 for genuine reasons.
3. To find out more about threatened birds visit http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/spotthreatbirds
- BirdLife International is a global alliance of conservation organisations working in more than 110 countries and territories that, together, are the leading authority on the status of birds, their habitats and the issues and problems affecting theme. Find out more at www.birdlife.org
- BirdLife is the Red List Authority for birds for the IUCN Red List. Categories include: Critically Endangered (facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild), Endangered (facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild), Vulnerable (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild), Near Threatened (close to qualifying for Vulnerable) and Least Concern (species not qualifying for the other categories, including widespread and abundant species). Species are assigned to categories using criteria with quantitative thresholds for population size, population trend, range size and other parameters. For more information visit: http://www.iucnredlist.org
- To find out more about the work of the BirdLife Partnership on threatened species through the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme visit www.birdlife.org/extinction
7. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (or the IUCN Red List) is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant and animal species. It is based on an objective system for assessing the risk of extinction of a species should no conservation action be taken.
8. Species are assigned to one of eight categories of threat based on whether they meet criteria linked to population trend, population size and structure and geographic range. Species listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable are collectively described as ‘Threatened’.
9. The IUCN Red List is not just a register of names and associated threat categories. It is a rich compendium of information on the threats to the species, their ecological requirements, where they live, and information on conservation actions that can be used to reduce or prevent extinctions.
10. The IUCN Red List is a joint effort between IUCN and its Species Survival Commission, working with its Red List partners BirdLife International; Botanic Gardens Conservation International; Conservation International; NatureServe; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Sapienza University of Rome; Texas A&M University; Wildscreen; and Zoological Society of London. www.iucnredlist.orgwww.facebook.com/iucn.red.list @amazingspecies
11. About IUCN. IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organisations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN's headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland. www.iucn.org
12. About the Species Survival Commission The Species Survival Commission (SSC) is the largest of IUCN’s six volunteer commissions with a global membership of around 7500 experts. SSC advises IUCN and its members on the wide range of technical and scientific aspects of species conservation, and is dedicated to securing a future for biodiversity. SSC has significant input into the international agreements dealing with biodiversity conservation.
13. Much of the conservation work for Restinga Antwren has been carried out by BirdLife Species Guardian, Pingo d’Agua. The new state park was created after advocacy by BirdLife Partner, SAVE Brasil and others. See http://www.birdlife.org/community/2011/04/threatened-antwren-to-benefit-from-creation-of-new-state-park-in-rio/
Africa: Grey Parrot has been split into two species: Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus and Timneh Grey Parrot P. timneh, both now listed as Vulnerable. Brown-cheeked Bycanistes cylindricus and Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata have both been uplisted to Vulnerable.
Americas: as well as the 95 Amazonian species being uplisted, Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi has been uplisted to Critically Endangered. The newly described Palkachupa Cotinga Phibalura bolivianahas been assessed for the first time as Endangered.
Asia: Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri and Edward’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi have both been uplisted to Critically Endangered. Several riverine species such as River Tern Sterna aurantia and River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii have been uplisted reflecting the threat to their habitat (both now Near Threatened).
Europe and the Middle East: As well as the two sea ducks both Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan (Vulnerable) and Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca (Near Threatened) have been uplisted to a higher threat category.
Pacific: In Australia, Norfolk Island Parakeet Cyanoramphus cookii (Critically Endangered), Western Bristlebird Dasyornis longirostris Endangered) and Regent Honeyeater Xanthomyza Phrygia(Critically Endangered) have all been uplisted to a higher threat category.