Archived: How many subspecies have gone extinct in the Neotropics?

Although BirdLife International does not yet have the capacity to assess global extinction risk at the subspecies level, we are currently working on a project to produce a synthesis of all bird taxa, at the species and subspecies level, that are known or thought to have gone extinct since 1500. This is the first time that subspecies extinctions have been systematically documented and analysed, and we hope that the results will provide new insights to support global efforts (including through the BirdLife Partnership) to conserve the world’s threatened birds.

Subspecies extinctions are generally not well documented, and so we would greatly appreciate any information and updates (including on recent surveys or rediscoveries) to support this effort. Attached is a spreadsheet of all Neotropical subspecies that we think likely to be extinct (for a list of Extinct and Possibly Extinct species, see here) Any feedback on the following would be exceedingly helpful:

  1. Is the date of extinction recorded appropriate? Where possible we have used the midpoint of the last definite record and the first unsuccessful survey that we are aware of. For other taxa we have had to follow other authors’ comments such as  ‘went extinct around 1910’. If you have any further information on records or surveys, or have a better estimate of extinction date than that given, this would be very helpful.
  2. For some taxa there is some uncertainty over whether they may still survive or have gone extinct (defined by IUCN as applying to taxa for which there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died, because adequate surveys have been undertaken in all known or likely habitat throughout the historic range). Following the approach taken by BirdLife and IUCN for species, we have therefore tagged some subspecies as ‘possibly extinct’ (PE) – likely to have gone extinct but for which confirmation is required, because, for example, surveys of its range have been inadequate, the taxon is particularly difficult to detect or identify, there have been recent unconfirmed reports, and/or there remains sufficient threat-free habitat where it could persist. Such taxa remain priorities for further searches. We would appreciate any input on whether subspecies in the attached list are appropriately classified as EX or PE, or indeed, whether any should be dropped from the list because they are likely (or have recently been confirmed) to survive.
  3. Are there any additional subspecies from the region that you think are likely to be extinct but which we have omitted? We would be extremely grateful to hear about them including, if possible, any details on the likely date of extinction, surveys that have been carried out, and drivers of extinction.

Click on the link below to download a list of the subspecies being reviewed:

Neotropical (including Caribbean) subspecies likely to be extinct

Please post your comments here under the main forum topic.

Any help you can provide will be much appreciated and of course acknowledged as appropriate.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Nyil Khwaja, Global Species Programme Assistant
Stuart Butchart, Global Research and Indicators Coordinator

This entry was posted in Americas, Archive, Caribbean, Central America, North America, Parrots, South America. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Archived: How many subspecies have gone extinct in the Neotropics?

  1. Nyil Khwaja says:

    For information – Bogotá tachuri (Polystictus pectoralis bogotensis) has been added to the records on the recommendation of Thomas Donegan.

  2. Nyil Khwaja says:

    Also adding records for Sinú parakeet (Pyrrhura picta subandina) and possibly Sinú brown-throated parakeet (Aratinga pertinax griseipecta), following correspondence with Donegan and Paul Salaman.

  3. This initiative is highly welcomed for the Lesser Antilles as most islands have very few endemic species at species level but have very specific populations, with some cryptic species or subspecies already identified (Myarchius, Contopus, …) and others that are just waiting for genetic confirmation and/or taxonomic description (Cinclocerthia, Megaceryle,…). The birds IUCN Redlist therefore underestimates the threats of such areas where the size of islands does not allow to have high level of endemisms at species level. The Guadeloupe’s regional IUCN Redlist evaluation have revealed some CR/EN subspecies that warrants a global evaluation (Feldmann et al., 2005, UICN French Comitte to be published in 2012).
    The endemic subspecies of T. aedon to Guadeloupe has never been recorded since 1973 in a location that was at the same moment destroyed by clear-cutting. There is only one unconfirmed record in 1992/1993 of one bird that “looked” like an European Troglodytes troglodytes by a National Park Guard that just arrived from France and therefore had no knowledge of Caribbean birds.
    AEVA members, familiar with other subspecies from the Lesser Antilles, and local birdwatchers, made hundreds of walks in this area and in other suitable areas and never recorded any bird even possible. Moreover a specific evaluation of this area’s avifauna study inolving tenth of people with 12 visits in 6 months had been made in 1995/1996 with detection of some rare species but no Troglodytes (Feldmann et al., 1996).
    As there is no record since 1973 despite a high pressure of birdwatching and specific search from 1984 to 1999, for a bird which song makes it easily detectable, AEVA consider that the subspecies is extinct for at minimum 27 years as published in its 1995’s checklist of the Birds of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

    Philippe Feldmann

  4. Anas cyanoptera tropicus, Anas cyanoptera borreroi, Netta erythrophthalma erythrophthalma, Gallinula melanops bogotensis, Eremophila alpestris peregrina, Ammodramus savannarum caucae. Rare subspecies but no They not much record and populations may be gone extinct

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