Archived 2020 topic: Helmeted Woodpecker (Celeus galeatus): request for information

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 2020 Red List update this post remains open and the date of posting has been updated.

BirdLife species factsheet for Helmeted Woodpecker

Helmeted Woodpecker is found in southern Brazil, eastern Paraguay and north-eastern Argentina. The species is listed as Vulnerable under A2c+3c+4c; C2a(i). Its small population is suspected to have suffered a rapid population reduction owing to the extensive and on-going loss and fragmentation of its habitat. The population is estimated at <10,000 mature individuals (A. Bodrati in litt. 2010, G. Kohler in litt. 2010, M. Lammertink in litt. 2010, A. E. Rupp in litt. 2010, Lammertink et al. 2012). However, this may well be an overestimate given the species’s apparent scarcity at well observed sites (M. Lammertink in litt. 2010). It is rare or very uncommon at all known sites and its status remains unclear, particularly considering the high rates of deforestation within its range, and considering its association with mature forest of which little remains in the region and the extent of which is still being reduced due to selective logging (Lammertink et al. 2011). Although rates of deforestation in its range are thought to have decreased in recent years (R. Clay in litt. 2007, A. Bodrati in litt. 2010, G. Kohler in litt. 2010), this species’s population is still suspected to be undergoing a rapid decline on the basis of continued habitat destruction, degradation and fragmentation.

In the Brazilian Red List assessment for birds (MMA 2014) this species is listed as Endangered under criterion C2a(i). The population is suspected to be <2,500 mature individuals with <250 mature individuals in each subpopulation. The population is in continuing decline owing to habitat loss. The species’s assessment on the Brazilian Red List can be accessed here.

Up-to-date information is requested on the species’s population size, population size reduction and subpopulation structure. Given that the Brazilian population is estimated at <2,500 mature individuals, are the populations in Paraguay and Argentina similarly small? If new data suggest that the population size has been overestimated, the species may be eligible for uplisting. If the number of mature individuals in each subpopulation is <250, the global population is <2,500 mature individuals and in continuing decline the species would likely qualify for Endangered under C2a(i).

Comments on the proposed uplisting and any new information are welcome.

References:

Lammertink, M.; Bodrati, A.; Santos, R. E. F. 2011. Helmeted Woodpecker Dryocopus galeatus: a little-known Atlantic Forest endemic. Neotropical Birding: 45-51.

Lammertink, M.; Cockle, K. L.; Bodrati, A.; Santos, R. E. F. 2012. Helmeted Woodpecker (Dryocopus galeatus). Available at: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=320216.

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

This entry was posted in Archive, South America and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Archived 2020 topic: Helmeted Woodpecker (Celeus galeatus): request for information

  1. In Misiones, Argentina, we are in year 5 of an 8-year radiotracking study on Helmeted Woodpecker and co-existing woodpecker species. So far we have obtained complete tracking data on eight Helmeted Woodpecker individuals. We are gaining insights in the densities, territory sizes and ecological requirements of this species. During 2012-2015 we worked in an adjacent logged and old-growth forest, and during 2016-2019 we work in a similar, replicate logged to old-growth contrast at 53 km from the first site. I would like to ask for patience until we complete this study and publish our results, and revisit the question of the IUCN Red List status of the Helmeted Woodpecker at that time.

  2. I have thought since 2000 that Helmeted Woodpecker is endangered, but I also agree with Martjan: if we wait a few years there will be some actual data to support a decision.

  3. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to pend the decision on this species and keep this discussion open until 2017, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2016 update.

    Final 2016 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.

  4. Hannah Wheatley (BirdLife) says:

    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.

    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.

  5. Claudia Hermes (BirdLife International) says:

    Based on available information, our proposal for the 2018 Red List would be to pend the decision on this species and keep this discussion open until 2019, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2018 update.
    Final 2018 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in November, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  6. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposals
    Based on available information, our proposal for the 2019 Red List is to pend the decision on this species and keep the discussion open until 2020, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2019 update.

  7. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    As stated above, this proposal was first posted in 2016. Since then, further information has arisen, and the species has been reassessed. The species is now assessed as follows:

    Criterion A:
    Over 15 years from 2004-2019, approximately 16% of tree cover with at least 75% canopy cover was lost within the species’s range (Global Forest Watch 2020).

    Extrapolating to 2020 and scaling to 14.58 years (three generations), approximately 15% of tree cover with at least 75% canopy cover is estimated to have been lost within the species’s range over the past three generations. Although the species occurs in selectively-logged forest, it occurs at higher densities in mature forest and is thought to be dependent on cavities in large trees (Lammertink et al. 2019). The population size is therefore suspected to have undergone a reduction of 10-15% over the past three generations. Assuming the rate of deforestation continues into the future, the population size is suspected to decline by 10-15% over the next three generations. The species is assessed as Least Concern under Criterion A.

    Criterion B:
    The species’s Extent of Occurrence, based on the area of a minimum convex polygon around its mapped range, is 412,000 km2. This does not approach the threshold for threatened under Criterion B1. The species’s AOO is not known, but given the species’s large range and the large area of forest within it, is likely to be much larger than the threshold for threatened under B2. The species is assessed as Least Concern under Criterion B.

    Criterion C:
    The species’s population size is poorly known. It is rare or very uncommon at all known sites, and is absent from some areas of apparently suitable habitat (Lammertink et al. 2011). It occurs at higher densities in old-growth forest, where it may reach densities of one territory per 3-5 km2 (Brooks et al. 1993, in Lammertink et al. 2020), which is assumed to equate to approximately 0.4-0.67 mature individuals per km2. In disturbed forests, densities as low as one territory per 135-210 km2 have been recorded (Lammertink et al. 2011, 2020), assumed to equate to approximately 0.010-0.015 mature individuals per km2. In Misiones, encounter rates were reported at a ratio of 1:0.18 in primary and disturbed forests, respectively (Lammertink et al. 2011); applying this ratio to the densities found in old-growth forest would produce densities in disturbed forest of 0.07-0.12 mature individuals per km2.

    According to Lammertink et al. (2020), the forested area within the species’s range is between 25,000 and 40,000 km2, but based on the mapped range, in 2010, there were approximately 135,000 km2 of tree cover (with at least 50% canopy cover) within the range (Global Forest Watch 2020). Less than 1% of forest within the range is thought to be primary forest (Lammertink et al. 2020).

    The species’s population size has previously been suspected to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals (A. Bodrati in litt. 2010, G. Kohler in litt. 2010, M. Lammertink in litt. 2010, A. E. Rupp in litt. 2010, Lammertink et al. 2012) and has more recently been estimated to be between 400 and 8,900 individuals (Lammertink et al. 2020). The population in Brazil is suspected to be smaller than 2,500 mature individuals (Pinto Marques et al. 2018).

    Assuming a total area of habitat of 25,000-135,000 km2, that 1% of the total area of habitat has a population density of 0.4-0.67 mature individuals per km2, a further 9% has an intermediate density of 0.2-0.4 mature individuals per km2, and that the remainder of the area of habitat is occupied at densities of 0.01-0.12 mature individuals per km2, the population size is here estimated to lie between 775 and 20,259 mature individuals, rounded to 700-21,000 mature individuals. Given the species’s apparent scarcity at well observed sites (M. Lammertink in litt. 2010), and preference for larger tracts of mature forest, the true population size is likely to fall towards the lower end of this range, with a precautionary best estimate here placed at 3,621 mature individuals (rounded to 3,600), based on an area of habitat of 40,000 km2 and the means of the density estimates described above.

    Since the remaining habitat is composed of small, isolated patches, it is assumed that the species is fragmented into small subpopulations, each of which contains no more than 1,000 mature individuals. In Brazil, each subpopulation is suspected to have no more than 250 mature individuals (Pinto Marques et al. 2018).

    Over 15 years from 2004-2019, approximately 16% of tree cover with at least 75% canopy cover was lost within the species’s range (Global Forest Watch 2020). The population size is therefore inferred to be declining.

    Based on this information, it is proposed that the species is assessed as Vulnerable under Criterion C2a(i). However, if evidence arises to suggest that the true population size is more likely to fall below 2,500 mature individuals, and that the largest subpopulation has no more than 250 mature individuals, the species may be assessed as Endangered under this Criterion.

    Criterion D:
    According to the range of population size estimates presented above, the species could potentially qualify as Vulnerable under Criterion D1, but if the best estimate is realistic, it is more likely to qualify as Least Concern under this Criterion.

    Overall assessment:
    Based on the current evidence, it is therefore proposed that this species is retained as Vulnerable under Criterion C2a(i). However, if further evidence arises to suggest that the population size is most likely to be smaller than 2,500 mature individuals, and that it is composed of isolated subpopulations of no more than 250 mature individuals each, then the species may be uplisted to Endangered under Criterion C2a(i). Please note that, should further evidence arise too late to be incorporated in this year’s assessment, we will review the species’s category again in a future Red List update.

    Comments are welcome on this proposed listing, and we particularly welcome further information on the species’s population size and subpopulation structure.

    References:

    Brooks, T. M.; Barnes, R.; Bartrina, L.; Butchart, S. H. M.; Clay, R. P.; Esquivel, E. Z.; Etcheverry, N. I.; Lowen, J. C.; Vincent, J. 1993. Bird surveys and conservation in the Paraguayan Atlantic forest: Project CANOPY ’92 final report. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

    Global Forest Watch. 2020. Interactive Forest Change Mapping Tool. Available at: http://www.globalforestwatch.org/.

    Lammertink, M.; Bodrati, A.; Santos, R. E. F. 2011. Helmeted Woodpecker Dryocopus galeatus: a little-known Atlantic Forest endemic. Neotropical Birding: 45-51.

    Lammertink, M.; Cockle, K. L.;Bodrati, A.; Santos, R. E. F. 2012. Helmeted Woodpecker (Dryocopus galeatus). Available at: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=320216.

    Lammertink, M., Fernández, J. M., & Cockle, K. L. 2019. Helmeted Woodpeckers roost in decay-formed cavities in large living trees: A clue to an old-growth forest association. The Condor: Ornithological Applications 121(1): 1-10.

    Pinto Marques, F., Barbalho de Lima Silva, S., & Custodio Leal, D. 2018. Celeus galeatus (Temminck, 1822). Livro Vermelho da Fauna Brasileira Ameaçada de Extinção, pp. 709. Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade, Brasília.

  8. 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

  9. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2020 Red List would be to list Helmeted Woodpecker as Vulnerable under Criterion C2a(i).

    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 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.

  10. We completed our radiotracking of Helmeted Woodpeckers in the central Misiones highlands (Argentina) in December of 2019. If densities throughout the occupied forests in its range are similar to our study region, or even somewhat lower, the species likely has an overall population larger than 2500 mature individuals and there are sub-populations larger than 250 mature individuals. At present there is no evidence to warrant Endangered status for Helmeted Woodpecker. Maintaining it as Vulnerable is warranted. Details to follow in publications.

  11. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    The final categorisation for this species has not changed. Helmeted Woodpecker is recommended to be listed as Vulnerable under Criterion C2a(i).

    Many thanks for everyone who contributed to the 2020 GTB Forum process. 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.

Comments are closed.