Black Rosy-finch (Leucosticte atrata): uplist to Vulnerable or Endangered?

This discussion was first published as part of the 2017 Red List update. At the time a decision regarding the status of several was pended, but to enable potential reassessment of these species as part of the 2018 Red List update this post remains open and the date of posting has been updated.

Black Rosy-finch, Leucosticte atrata, is currently listed as Least Concern on the basis that it had not been considered to approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion. This species is endemic to the U.S.A., breeding on montane and submontane tundra habitats above the treeline in Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, and descending to lower altitudes in the non-breeding season although remaining near or just above the snow-line (Clement 2017). Partners in Flight estimate its population size to be >10,000 mature individuals (Rosenberg et al. 2016), and it has a very large range (Extent of Occurrence 325,000km2 during the breeding season; 1,130,000km2 during the non-breeding season). Therefore, it does not meet the threshold for Vulnerable under criteria B, C or D.

However, Partners in Flight have placed the Black Rosy-finch on the Red Watch List as it is estimated to have undergone an extremely large decline over the 44 years from 1970 to 2014 (Rosenberg et al. 2016). Climate change is likely to continue to threaten this species into the future, with it potentially losing the entirety of its tundra habitat as warmer climates allow montane forests to expand and colonise higher elevations (Rosenberg et al. 2016). Partners in Flight placed the rate of decline in this species at 95% between 1970 and 2014 (Rosenberg et al. 2016), which would equate to an annual decline of 6.6%, or a decline of 51.1% over 3 generations (10.5 years). The threshold for Vulnerable under criteria A2, A3 and A4 is a decline of 30-49% over 3 generations, while the threshold for Endangered under the same criteria is a 50-79% decline.

Depending whether the rate of decline (as observed between 1970-2014) has slowed or accelerated during the past 11 years, the trend over three generations could fall into the range 30-49% (Vulnerable) or 50-79% (Endangered). Information on the likely population trend between 2006-2017 would therefore be particularly useful. If further data on the recent trend are not available it may be most appropriate to precautionarily list this species as Endangered under criteria A2ac+3c+4ac.

We welcome any comments and further information regarding this proposed uplisting.



Clement, P. 2017. Black Rosy-finch (Leucosticte atrata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. Retrieved from on 13th March 2017.

Rosenberg, K. V., Kennedy, J. A., Dettmers, R., Ford, R. P., Reynolds, D., Alexander, J. D., Beardmore, C. J., Blancher, P. J., Bogart, R. E., Butcher, G. S., Camfield, A. F., Couturier, A., Demarest, D. W., Easton, W. E., Giocomo, J. J., Keller, R. H., Mini, A. E., Panjabi, A. O., Pashley, D. N., Rich, T. D., Ruth, J. M., Stabins, H., Stanton, J. and Will., T. 2016. Partners in Flight Landbird Conservation Plan: 2016 Revision for Canada and Continental United States. Partners in Flight Science Committee.

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One Response to Black Rosy-finch (Leucosticte atrata): uplist to Vulnerable or Endangered?

  1. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to pend the decision on this species and keep this discussion open until 2018, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2017 update.

    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 those in 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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