Archived 2016 topics: The newly described taxon Sporophila beltoni is to be recognised as a species by BirdLife: list as Vulnerable?

This is part of a consultation on the Red List implications of extensive changes to BirdLife’s taxonomy for passerines

Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish the second volume of 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 2 of the checklist (for passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2016 Red List update, with the remainder 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.

The newly described taxon Sporophila beltoni is to be recognised as a species by BirdLife.

Sporophila beltoni, Tropeiro Seedeater, was first described in 2013 (Repenning and Fontana 2013). It is thought to be endemic to Brazil and its breeding distribution is thought to be from north-eastern Paraná south to the north-eastern corner of Rio Grande do Sul (Repenning and Fontana 2013). Its non-breeding distribution is suspected to be further north in Brazil, in Minias Geras and the neighbouring states (Repenning and Fontana 2013). It requires a specific habitat type, breeding in grasslands that contain a high density of tall shrubs (Repenning and Fontana 2013).

Habitat loss is occurring throughout this species’s range, and there is a particular threat to its breeding grounds which are already fragmented and are becoming more so as Pinus plantations are being planted within the species’s required breeding habitat (Repenning and Fontana 2013). The species is also said to be prized in cage bird trade because of its relative rarity, and this may have had an additional great effect on the population (Repenning and Fontana 2013). Therefore the population is inferred to be in decline. The population size has been estimated at 9,000 mature individuals (MMA 2014), and declines have been suspected to be at least 10% over 3 generations. As this degree of decline is only suspected, then the species may not necessarily be listed under criterion C1, but it is likely that the species may be thought to be in one subpopulation. This species may therefore warrant listing as Vulnerable under criterion C2a(ii).

Comments are invited on this proposed category and further information would be welcomed.

References:

MMA (2014) Lista Nacional Oficial de Espécies da Fauna Ameaçadas de Extinção. Portaria No 444, de 17 de dezembro de 2014. Diário Oficial da União – Seção 1. Nº 245, quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2014.

Repenning, M. and Fontana, C.S. 2013. A new species of gray seedeater (Emberizidea: Sporophila) from upland grasslands of Southern Brazil. Auk 130(4): 791-803.

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.

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One Response to Archived 2016 topics: The newly described taxon Sporophila beltoni is to be recognised as a species by BirdLife: list as Vulnerable?

  1. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 28 October, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2016 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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