Paramillo Tapaculo Scytalopus canus and Paramo Tapaculo S. opacus have been split following a decision by the AOU South American Classification Committee (http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~remsen/SACCprop446.html) based on recommendations made by Krabbe and Cadena (2010). Differences in vocalisations and the level of genetic divergence between these taxa support the view that they are sufficiently distinct as to be treated as separate species (Krabbe and Cadena 2010).
It is proposed that S. opacus, which ranges from the Central Andes of Colombia, south through Ecuador to northern Peru, be listed as Least Concern on the basis that it does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN criteria. The species’s range does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence less than 20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines and substantial threats, hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (fewer than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be at least 10% over ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure).
Mapping by BirdLife of the known range of S. canus in the Western Andes of Colombia suggests that its Extent of Occurrence (EOO) is c.940 km2. This indicates that the species may be eligible for Endangered status under the B criterion. To qualify for Endangered the species’s habitat must be shown to be severely fragmented, i.e. over 50% of suitable habitat in patches too small to support viable populations, or occur at five locations or less, with an ongoing decline observed, inferred or projected in the EOO, Area of Occupancy, area, extent and/or quality of habitat, number of locations or sub-populations or number of mature individuals. Note that for the purposes of the Red List criteria ‘location’ defines a “geographically or ecologically distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of the taxon present. The size of the location depends on the area covered by the threatening event and may include part of one or many subpopulations. Where a taxon is affected by more than one threatening event, location should be defined by considering the most serious plausible threat” (IUCN 2001). Krabbe and Cadena (2010) do not seem concerned over the conservation status of S. canus, pointing out that it occurs in two protected areas and may be present on other areas of páramo. However, these protected areas may offer little in the way of de facto protection (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999). In general, the main threats to páramo habitats are livestock-grazing and fires set by tourists or to encourage vegetation to shoot (Wege and Long 1995, Kessler and Herzog 1998, P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, Koenen and Koenen 2000).
Draft BirdLife range map for Paramillo Tapaculo
With all this in mind, further information is requested on S. canus, in particular the likely population size, estimated population trend, level of habitat fragmentation and the severity of potential threats.
IUCN (2001) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN.
Kessler, M. and Herzog, S. K. (1998) Conservation status in Bolivia of timberline habitats, elfin forest and their birds. Cotinga 10: 50-54.
Koenen, M. T. and Koenen, S. G. (2000) Effects of fire on birds in páramo habitat of northern Ecuador. Ornitol. Neotrop. 11: 155-163.
Krabbe, N. and Cadena, C. D. (2010) A taxonomic revision of the Paramo Tapaculo Scytalopus canus Chapman (Aves: Rhinocryptidae), with description of a new subspecies from Ecuador and Peru. Zootaxa 2354: 56-66.
Wege, D. C. and Long, A. J. (1995) Key Areas for threatened birds in the Neotropics. Cambridge, U.K.: BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series 05).