Archived 2017 topics: Arabian Woodpecker (Dendropicos dorae): downlist from Vulnerable to Near Threatened or Least Concern?

This discussion was first published as part of the 2016 Red List update. At the time a decision regarding its status was pended, but to enable potential reassessment of this species as part of the 2017 Red List update this post remained open and the date of posting was updated.

BirdLife species factsheet for Arabian Woodpecker

This species occurs locally in the Red Sea foothills and western ramparts of south-west Arabia (Winkler et al. 1995), from 13°N in Yemen to 26°N in Saudi Arabia (Jennings 2010).

It is currently listed as Vulnerable under C2a(ii) because the population is estimated to be <10,000 mature individuals, the population is observed, estimated, projected or inferred to be undergoing a continuing decline and 100% mature individuals are found in one subpopulation.

Data from the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia (Jennings 2010) provides a population estimate of c.7,500 pairs which equates to c.15,000 mature individuals. This is considerably larger than the 2,500-9,999 mature individuals currently estimated by BirdLife International.

Given this new population estimate the species may no longer qualify for Vulnerable status under criterion C.

A recent assessment of the conservation status of birds breeding in the Arabian Peninsula (Symes et al. 2015) assessed the species as Vulnerable under A2ac+3c+4ac. The population was estimated to be declining by >30% but <50% over three generations (16 years), owing largely to a loss of acacia woodland through cutting for timber and fodder, aridification and overgrazing.

According to BirdLife’s global assessment of this species the population is currently inferred to be in continuing decline. However in the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia (Jennings 2010) it is suggested that its range and population have remained stable since the species was described early in the 20th century (Jennings 2010). Furthermore the species is reported to have remained stable since 2010 (J. Babbington and P. Roberts in litt. 2016).

We require clarification of the species’s population trend. Is there evidence to show that the species is in continuing decline? Information to show that the population is not in continuing decline would support downlisting from Vulnerable under C2a(ii). Is the population likely to be declining by >30% but <50% over three generations? If this rate of decline is confirmed then the species would remain Vulnerable but under A2ac+3c+4ac.

Confirmation that the population is >10,000 mature individuals and that the species is not experiencing a continuing decline would warrant downlisting the species to Near Threatened or Least Concern. However should the population trend be confirmed to lie between a decline of 30-50% then it should remain as Vulnerable.

We welcome any comments or information to clarify whether the species should remain classified as Vulnerable or whether it warrants downlisting to Near Threatened or Least Concern.

 

References

Jennings, M.C. (2010) Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia. Fauna of Arabia, Volume 25.

Symes, A., Taylor, J., Mallon, D., Porter, R., Simms, C. and Budd, K. (2015) The Conservation Status and Distribution of the Breeding Birds of the Arabian Peninsula. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – Regional Assessment.

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4 Responses to Archived 2017 topics: Arabian Woodpecker (Dendropicos dorae): downlist from Vulnerable to Near Threatened or Least Concern?

  1. Richard Porter says:

    Because the fortunes of Yemen are so volatile and because there haven’t been any reliable assessments of the changes to habitats (and bird populations) in recent years it would be prudent to downlist this species to Near Threatened (and not Least Concern).

    (I am making this same comment for all SW Arabian endemics under review)

  2. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to pend the decision on this species and keep this discussion open until 2017, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2016 update.

    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.

  3. Richard Porter says:

    We are starting to learn of increased pressure on birds because of the serious conflict situation in Yemen and, as a consequence, shortages of food. Thus birds are being killed for protein in apparently increasing numbers. Whilst the Arabian Woodpecker would not be high on the target list, I feel that downlisting below Near-threatened would be unwise, until we are better able to assess the situation in Yemen. We do not know, for example, if Acacia trees and other trees, in which it nests are being cut for fuel as the economic pressures on Yemen increase. I am making this same comment for all the SW Arabian endemics under review.

  4. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to list:

    Arabian Woodpecker as Near Threatened under criterion C2a(ii).

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 4 August, 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 the initial proposal.

    The final 2017 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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