Marcapata Spinetail (Cranioleuca marcapatae): revise global status?

BirdLife species factsheet for Marcapata Spinetail

Marcapata Spinetail (Cranioleuca marcapatae) is endemic to Peru, where it occurs in the Cordilleras of Vilcanota and Carabaya. It inhabits humid montane and elfin forest at elevations of 2,350-3,600 m (Remsen et al. 2020). The population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as uncommon (Remsen et al. 2020).

The only potential threat known to Marcapata Spinetail is habitat loss, as the species is feared to be susceptible to forest fragmentation and edge effects. A study of deforestation in the Amazon projected rapid forest loss within the range and consequently rapid population declines of over 30% over three generations (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). However, new information regarding the rate of forest loss suggests that this was a large overestimation, as forests within the species’s remain largely unaffected by logging, fragmentation and human encroachment (Tracewski et al. 2016, Global Forest Watch 2020, Schulenberg and Johnson 2020). 

Marcapata Spinetail is currently listed as Vulnerable under Criterion A3c, based on projections of rapid habitat loss in the future (BirdLife International 2020). However, new information regarding trends in population size and habitat availability suggests that the species may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, the species will be re-assessed against all criteria:

Criterion A – The population trend has not been estimated directly. The only threat known to the species is forest loss; however, deforestation over the past ten years (one generation length being 2.8 years; Bird et al. 2020)* has been negligible within the range (potentially <1%; Tracewski et al. 2016, Global Forest Watch 2020). There is currently no evidence that the species is undergoing a decline (Schulenberg and Johnson 2020). Unless new information becomes available to suggest otherwise, the species is assessed as stable and listed as Least Concern under Criterion A.

Criterion B – The Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for this species is 25,500 km2. This value approaches the threshold for listing as threatened (EOO < 20,000 km2). However, population size and habitat availability are thought to be stable, and the species is not severely fragmented or restricted to few locations**. Therefore, Marcapata Spinetail qualifies for Least Concern under this criterion. The Area of Occupancy (AOO) has not been quantified according to IUCN guidelines (IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee 2019), and so the species cannot be assessed against Criterion B2.

Criterion C – The population size of Marcapata Spinetail has not been quantified, and thus the species cannot be assessed against Criterion C. Considering the range size and the area of available habitat (see Global Forest Watch 2020), the population size is not thought to approach the threshold for listing as threatened under this criterion.

Criterion D – The population size is not known, but is not thought to approach the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion D.

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 Marcapata Spinetail (Cranioleuca marcapatae) be listed as Least Concern. We welcome any comments on the proposed listing.

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).

**The term ‘location’ refers to a distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of the taxon present, with the size of the location depending on the area covered by the threatening event. Where a taxon is affected by more than one threatening event, location should be defined by considering the most serious plausible threat (IUCN 2001, 2012).

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.


Bird, J. P.; Buchanan, J. M.; Lees, A. C.; Clay, R. P.; Develey, P. F.; Yépez, I.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2011. Integrating spatially explicit habitat projections into extinction risk assessments: a reassessment of Amazonian avifauna incorporating projected deforestation. Diversity and Distributions 18(3): 273-281.

BirdLife International. 2020. Species factsheet: Cranioleuca marcapatae. (Accessed 1 April 2020).

Global Forest Watch. 2020. Interactive Forest Change Mapping Tool. (Accessed 1 April 2020).

IUCN. 2001. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition. IUCN Species Survival Commission. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K.

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

Remsen, J. V., Jr; Sharpe, C. J.; Kirwan, G. M. 2020. Marcapata Spinetail (Cranioleuca marcapatae). 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, Spain. (Accessed 1 April 2020).

Schulenberg, T. S.; Johnson, T. 2020. Marcapata Spinetail (Cranioleuca marcapatae), version 1.0. In: Schulenberg, T. S. (ed.). Birds of the World. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. (Accessed 1 April 2020).

Soares-Filho, B. S.; Nepstad, D. C.; Curran, L. M.; Cerqueira, G. C.; Garcia, R. A.; Ramos, C. A.; Voll, E.; McDonald, A.; Lefebvre, P.; Schlesinger, P. 2006. Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin. Nature 440(7083): 520-523.

Tracewski, Ł.; Butchart, S. H. M.; Di Marco, M.; Ficetola, G. F.; Rondinini, C.; Symes, A.; Wheatley, H.; Beresford, A. E.; Buchanan, G. M. 2016. Toward quantification of the impact of 21st-century deforestation on the extinction risk of terrestrial vertebrates. Conservation Biology 30: 1070-1079.

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3 Responses to Marcapata Spinetail (Cranioleuca marcapatae): revise global status?

  1. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Global Forest Change data on tree cover loss up to 2019 have now been released and made available via Global Forest Watch. Based on these data, over ten years approximately 0.6% of tree cover with 75% canopy cover was lost from within the species’s range (Global Forest Watch 2020). This does not affect the above assessment under Criterion A.

  2. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    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,
    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 classification 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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