This discussion was first published as part of the 2015 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.
Eared Quetzal (Euptilotis neoxenus) is currently listed as Near Threatened because its population has been thought to be moderately small and possibly declining.
The species has a large range: it occurs almost throughout the mountains of west Mexico, in Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Nayarit, Zacatecas, Jalisco and Michoacán states, and within Arizona and New Mexico in the USA. Until recently, it was considered very uncommon and locally distributed, but this probably stemmed from a lack of field studies in appropriate areas (Lammertink et al. 1996). Surveys in 1995 showed it to be common in primary habitat, particularly in canyon forest, and frequent (including nesting) in disturbed areas and riparian corridors in otherwise largely logged areas (Lammertink et al. 1996). It is found in the upper and middle storeys of forest, particularly along watercourses in canyons, generally at 1,800-3,000 m, being most abundant at 2,100-2,800 m (del Hoyo et al. 2001).
E. neoxenus has been estimated to have a population of fewer than 50,000 individuals (A. Panjabi in litt. 2008), which equates to approximately 33,300 mature individuals. The species was previously thought to be potentially declining as a result of deforestation and the loss of large trees used for nesting (Howell & Webb 1995), but surveys by Lammertink et al. (1996) found that the species was common in appropriate habitat and little affected by logging, so the population was judged to be stable.
Nevertheless, Partners in Flight named the species as a ‘Tropical Resident of High Tri-National Concern’ in 2010, judging it to be a species with a broad geographic distribution that is highly threatened in its tri-national range due to logging and habitat conversion (Berlanga et al. 2010). A recent study modelled the impact of climate changed on E. neoxenus in Chihuahua and predicted a slight reduction in the species’ range, also noting that local people believed the species to have declined notably over recent years (Ojeda-Ramíreza et al. 2014). Total forest cover in Mexico is reported to have declined by 0.52% from 1990-2000, 0.35% from 2000-2005 and 0.24% from 2005-2010 (FAO, 2010).
Despite ongoing deforestation, the evidence that E. neoxenus is resilient to logging (Lammertink et al. 1996) and the low level and recent decline in deforestation rate in Mexico (FAO, 2010) suggest that the species is unlikely to be undergoing a substantial decline. The species has a large extent of occurrence and its estimated population size of approximately 33,300 mature individuals is relatively high. The species does not approach qualification for Vulnerable status under any of the Red List Criteria and it is therefore recommended that it is downlisted to Least Concern.
Additional information and comments on this proposal are welcomed.
Berlanga, H., Kennedy, J.A. & Rich, T.D. 2010. Saving our shared birds: partners in flight tri-national vision for landbird conservation.
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. 2001. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 6: Mousebirds to Hornbills. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) 2010. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010. FAO, Rome.
Howell, S.N. & Webb, S. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America, p851. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lammertink, J.M., Rojas-Tomé, J.A., Casillas-Orona, F.M. & Otto, R.L. 1996. Status and conservation of old-growth forests and endemic birds in the pine-oak zone of the Sierra Madre occidental Mexico. Verslagen en Technische Gegevens, 69 (October): 1-89.
Ojeda-Ramíreza, L.Á., Pérez-Galdeánb, G., Alatorre-Cejudoc, L.C., Bravo-Peñad, L.C. & Torres-Olavee, M.E. 2014. Distribución de Trogon spp y Euptilotis spp en Chihuahua: Una predicción climatica a futuro en los años 2020 y 2050 basada en el modelaje con algoritmos de nicho ecológico. Accessed online at: http://langif.uaslp.mx/selper/documentos/CD_SELPER_2013/MEMORIAS_SELPER_PDF/Estudios_Tematicos/ID_014.pdf on 16/12/2014.