Archived 2017 topics: Yemen Warbler (Sylvia buryi): 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 Yemen Warbler

This species occurs from 19°30’N in the southern Asir mountains in Saudi Arabia, south to 13°55’N at Jiblah in Yemen (Brooks 1987). The species can be locally common (Brooks 1987), and population densities (Jennings et al. 1988, Newton and Newton 1996) probably fall within the range of 1-100 mature individuals per km2 at the sites where it occurs. On this basis, its population is inferred to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals.

The species 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 9,000 pairs. This equates to 18,000 mature individuals, placed in the band 10,000-19,999 mature individuals which is considerably larger than the 2,500-9,999 mature individuals currently estimated by BirdLife International.

Furthermore deforestation has taken place in parts of the species’s range however there are still good numbers of suitable habitat patches and the bird may be quite common within its range (M. Jennings in litt. 2016). Is there evidence to show that the species is in continuing decline? Information to show that the population is not in continuing decline would also support downlisting from Vulnerable.

Owing to the population estimate of >10,000 mature individuals and the possibility that the species may no longer be experiencing a continuing decline the species no longer qualifies 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 Near Threatened under A2c+3c+4c. The population was estimated to be 9,000 pairs, following the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia. The population was estimated to be declining by >20% but <30% over three generations (12 years) based on anecdotal evidence and habitat loss.

We require confirmation of the species’s population trend. If a decline of >20% but <30% over three generations (12 years) is suspected then we would propose downlisting the species to Near Threatened under A2c+3c+4c in line with Symes et al. (2015).

We welcome any comments on this proposed downlisting.

 

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: Yemen Warbler (Sylvia buryi): 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).

  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 Yemen Warbler would not be high on the target list as it is rather secretive and does not breed colonially, I feel that it should remain as Vulnerable until we are better able to assess the situation in Yemen. We do not know, for example, if Acacia trees, in which it breeds, 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 proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to list Yemen Warbler as Near Threatened under criterion C2a(ii) – recognising concern about the species in Yemen but acknowledging its significant additional range in Saudi Arabia.

    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.

    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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