Galapagos Dove (Zenaida galapagoensis): revise global status?

BirdLife species factsheet for Galapagos Dove

Galapagos Dove (Zenaida galapagoensis) is endemic to the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. It inhabits dry, rocky lowlands with scattered trees, bushes and Opuntia cacti (Baptista et al. 2020). The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as overall ‘fairly common’ (Stotz et al. 1996).

Recent evidence however suggests that the species is undergoing a decline (Fessl et al. 2017, Jiménez-Uzcátegui et al. 2018). Particularly on the inhabited islands Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal and Floreana, the species is now very rare and patchily distributed (Fessl et al. 2017, J. Freile in litt. 2018, Dvorak et al. 2019). Trends on uninhabited islands are less clear, but it is feared that on some islands the species may be experiencing declines as well (Fessl et al. 2017, J. Freile in litt. 2018). Most likely, the main driver of the decline is predation by introduced feral cats (J. Freile in litt. 2018). Moreover, cases of nestling parasitism by Philornis downsi have been recorded (Coloma et al. 2020).

Galapagos Dove is currently listed as Least Concern (BirdLife International 2020). However, new information regarding the population trend suggests that the species may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, it will be re-assessed against all Red List criteria:

Criterion A – Observational data suggests that the species is becoming increasingly rare on inhabited islands due to predation by invasive mammals, and it is likely that populations on uninhabited islands show a similar trend. The rate of decline is tentatively placed in the band 20-29% over the past three generations (13.2 years; Bird et al. 2020), and it is thought that declines are continuing at the same rate into the future. The species therefore qualifies as Near Threatened, approaching the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion A2ce+3ce+4ce.

Criterion B – The Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for this species is 57,100 km2. This is too large to warrant listing as threatened under Criterion B1, and thus the species is considered Least Concern under this criterion. The Area of Occupancy (AOO) has not been calculated according to IUCN guidelines (see IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee 2019); hence the species cannot be assessed against Criterion B2.

Criterion C – The population size of Galapagos Dove is unknown, and hence the species cannot be assessed against Criterion C. It is nevertheless not believed to approach the threshold for Vulnerable (< 10,000 mature individuals).

Criterion D – The population size has not been quantified, and thus the species cannot be assessed against this criterion, but it is not thought to approach the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion D1 (< 1,000 mature individuals). The range is too large to warrant listing as threatened under Criterion D2.

Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge no quantitative analysis of extinction risk has been conducted for this species. Therefore, it cannot be assessed against this criterion.

Therefore, it is suggested that Galapagos Dove (Zenaida galapagoensis) be listed as Near Threatened, approaching the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion A2ce+3ce+4ce. We welcome any comments on the proposed listing and specifically ask for up-to-date information regarding the population size.

Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of its Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are relevant to the discussion outlined in the topic. By submitting a comment, you confirm that you agree to the Comment Policy.

*Bird generation lengths are estimated using the methodology of Bird et al. (2020), as applied to parameter values updated for use in each IUCN Red List for birds reassessment cycle. Values used for the current assessment are available on request. We encourage people to contact us with additional or improved values for the following parameters; adult survival (true survival accounting for dispersal derived from an apparently stable population); mean age at first breeding; and maximum longevity (i.e. the biological maximum, hence values from captive individuals are acceptable).

An information booklet on the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here and the Red List Criteria Summary Sheet can be downloaded here. Detailed guidance on IUCN Red List terms and definitions and the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here.


Baptista, L. F.; Trail, P. W.; Horblit, H. M.; Kirwan, G. M. 2020. Galagpagos Dove (Zenaida galapagoensis), version 1.0. In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D. A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). Birds of the World. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. (Accessed 09 April 2020).

Bird, J. P.; Martin, R.; Akçakaya, H. R.; Gilroy, J.; Burfield, I. J.; Garnett, S.; Symes, A.; Taylor, J.; Šekercioğlu, Ç.; Butchart, S. H. M. (2020). Generation lengths of the world’s birds and their implications for extinction risk. Conservation Biology online first view.

BirdLife International. 2020. Species factsheet: Zenaida galapagoensis. (Accessed 09 April 2020).

Coloma, A.; Anchundia, D.; Piedrahita, P.; Pike, C.; Fessl, B. 2020. Observations on the nesting of the Galapagos Dove Zenaida galapagoensis in Galapagos, Ecuador. Galapagos Research 69: 34-38.

Dvorak, M.; Fessl, B.; Nemeth, E.; Anchundia, D.; Cotín, J.; Schulze, C. H.; Tapia, W.; Wendelin, B. 2019. Survival and extinction of breeding landbirds on San Cristóbal, a highly degraded island in the Galápagos. Bird Conservation International, online first view.

IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee. 2019. Guidelines for using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 14.

Jiménez-Uzcátegui; G.; Freile, J. F.; Santander, T.; Carrasco, L.; Cisneros-Heredia, D. F.; Guevara, E. A.; Tinoco, B. A. 2018. Lista roja de las aves de Galápagos. Ministerio del Ambiente, Aves y Conservación, Comité Ecuatoriano de Registros Ornitológicos, Fundación Charles Darwin, Universidad del Azuay, Red Aves Ecuador y Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Quito, Ecuador.

Fessl, B.; Anchundia, D.; Carrión, J.; Cimadom, A.; Cotin, J.; Cunninghame, F.; Dvoral, M.; Mosquera, D.; Nemeth, E.; Sevilla, C.; Tebbich, S.; Wendelin, B.; Causton, C. 2017. Galapagos landbirds (passerines, cuckoos, and doves): Status, threats, and knowledge gaps. Galapagos Report 2015-2016. GNPD, GCREG, CDF, GC, Puerto Ayora, Galápagos, Ecuador.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.

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4 Responses to Galapagos Dove (Zenaida galapagoensis): revise global status?

  1. Juan Freile says:

    We agree with this re-assessment. Calculating EOO cannot be calculated in the regular polygon way, since all marine areas need to be removed.
    Please correct Jiménez-Uzcátegui et al. citation. It was published in 2019.

    • Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

      Following IUCN guidelines, the EOO has to be calculated as a Minimum Convex Polygon around all known, inferred or projected sites of occurrence. The EOO is not equal to the mapped range. Marine areas cannot be excluded. Please have a look at the IUCN Red List Guidelines, chapter 4.9 for guidance on the calculation of the EOO.

  2. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion. We greatly appreciate the time and effort invested by so many people in commenting. The window for consultation is now closed. We will analyse and interpret the new information and post a preliminary decision on this species’s Red List status on this page in early July.

    Thank you once again,
    BirdLife Red List Team

  3. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2020 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline in mid-July, 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 2020 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December 2020/January 2021, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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