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 2018 Red List update this post remains open and the date of posting has been updated.
Dwarf Tinamou is found in central and south-eastern Brazil, with old isolated records from south-central Paraguay and north-east Argentina. In Brazil the few recent records of the species are from scattered localities where individuals or pairs were recorded (Cabot et al. 2016). The species is listed as Vulnerable under criterion A2c+3c+4c as a rapid and on-going population decline is suspected on the basis of rapid rates of loss and degradation of cerrado habitat. The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals.
The species inhabits campo sujo (shrubby fields) and campo limpo (clean grass fields) with scattered shrubs (Silveira and Silveira 1998). High-quality cerrado grasslands are being rapidly destroyed by mechanised agriculture, intensive cattle-ranching, afforestation, invasive grasses, excessive use of pesticides and annual burning (Stotz et al. 1996, Parker and Willis 1997). By 1993, two-thirds of the cerrado had been heavily or moderately altered (Conservation International 1999), with most of the destruction having occurred since 1950 (Cavalcanti 1999). Since the species can only cover c.50 m in flight (Silveira and Silveira 1998), it is presumably susceptible to fast-moving fires, and is unlikely to disperse between isolated habitat fragments. Catastrophic fires are common in protected areas such as Serra da Canastra and Emas (F. Olmos in litt. 2013). The species was once common in Minas Gerais but there are no recent records. It is also reported to be disappearing from São Paulo as a result of agricultural development and overpopulation (Cabot et al. 2016). Large areas of potentially suitable habitat remain in eastern Tocantins, however fires are a serious threat here, while Eucalyptus plantations are increasing and are expected to cover more than 1 million ha in the region, converted from agriculture and natural habitat. Expansion of soy and cane sugar crops are further potential threats (T. Dornas in litt. 2013), and even protected areas are likely to be coming under increasing threat from habitat conversion (T. Dornas, A. Lees, A. de Luca and F. Olmos in litt. 2013).
In the Brazilian Red List assessment for birds (MMA 2014) this species is listed as Endangered under B2ab(ii,iii). The population is highly fragmented and almost entirely restricted to protected areas. Its Area of Occupancy (AOO) is estimated on the national Red List at 196 km2 (but no details of the calculation are given), and wildfires threaten the species’s habitat. The species’s assessment on the Brazilian Red List can be accessed here.
The type specimen was collected from Misiones, southern Paraguay and two specimens were taken in northern Argentina (one in 1901 and another possibly in the same year). However since then no further records are known from either country (Cabot et al. 2016). Thus the Brazilian Red List assessment for this species is likely to be of global significance.
Up-to-date information on the species’s status in Paraguay and Argentina is requested. Has the species been recorded in Paraguay since the type specimen was collected? Has the species been recorded in Argentina since the 1901 records? Should the species’s AOO in Brazil (196 km2) be treated as the species’s global AOO? Confirmation of an AOO of <500 km2, a highly fragmented population and a continuing decline in AOO and area/extent/quality of habitat would likely qualify the species for uplisting to Endangered globally under criterion B2ab(ii,iii).
Comments on the proposed uplisting are welcome.
Cabot, J., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F. & Sharpe, C.J. (2016). Dwarf Tinamou (Taoniscus nanus). 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.
Cavalcanti, R. B. 1999. Bird species richness and conservation in the Cerrado region of central Brazil. Studies in Avian Biology 19: 244-249.
Conservation International. 1999. Ações Prioritárias para a Conservação da Biodiversidade do Cerrado e Pantanal.
MMA (2014) Lista Nacional Oficial de Espécies da Fauna Ameaçadas de Extinção. Portaria No 444, de 17 de dezembro de 2014. Diário Oficial da União – Seção 1. Nº 245, quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2014.
Parker, T. A.; Willis, E. O. 1997. Notes on three tiny grassland flycatchers, with comments on the disappearance of South American fire-diversified savannas. Ornithological Monographs 48: 549-555.
Silveira, L. F.; Silveira, V. J. 1998. The biology of the Dwarf Tinamou Taoniscus nanus, with notes on its breeding in captivity. Cotinga: 42-46.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.