Archived 2019 topic: Arrowhead Piculet (Picumnus minutissimus): revise global status?

BirdLife species factsheet for Arrowhead Piculet

Arrowhead Piculet (Picumnus minutissimus) occurs in the coastal lowlands of the Guianas. It is probably endemic to Suriname; some consider that there have not been any conclusive records from Guyana, while its status in French Guiana is unclear (Restall et al. 2006). The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as ‘fairly common’ (Stotz et al. 1996).

The species occurs across a wide range of habitats, including montane forests, mangroves and riparian vegetation, secondary forest, plantations and shrubby gardens in villages and towns (del Hoyo et al. 2002, Spaans et al. 2016, Winkler et al. 2019). The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation, as land is cleared for cattle ranching and soy production, facilitated by expansion of the road network (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011).

Arrowhead Piculet is currently listed as Near Threatened under Criterion A4c (BirdLife International 2019). However, incorporating new information on the rate of forest loss and on habitat requirements, this species appears to warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, we present here our reassessment against all criteria for the species.

Criterion A – The population of Arrowhead Piculet it suspected to be in decline, but the rate of decline has not been estimated directly. The only threat known for this species is forest clearance for agricultural expansion (del Hoyo et al. 2002). Tracewski et al. (2016) measured the forest loss within the species’s range between 2000 and 2012 as c. 736 km2. This roughly equates to a rate of forest loss of 1.4% over three generations (12.6 years) for this species. Arrowhead Piculet occurs in a wide range of forested habitat, including secondary forests, plantations and gardens (del Hoyo et al. 2002, Spaans et al. 2016). Thus, it may not be severely affected by deforestation. It has even been suggested that the species might rather benefit from forest loss, as deforestation is opening up new areas of suitable habitat (O. Ottema in litt. 2018). Overall, we can tentatively assume that the population is not declining, but instead stable, and so it does not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under Criterion A. Therefore, Arrowhead Piculet may be listed as Least Concern under this criterion.

Criterion B – The Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for this species is 41,600 km2. This does not meet the threshold for Vulnerable (EOO < 20,000 km2). Therefore, Arrowhead Piculet may be listed as Least Concern under Criterion B1. The Area of Occupancy (AOO) has not been calculated and Arrowhead Piculet cannot be assessed against Criterion B2.

Criterion C – The global population size is unknown. Therefore, the species cannot be assessed against this criterion.

Criterion D – The global population size is unknown. Therefore, the species cannot be assessed against this criterion.

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 proposed that Picumnus minutissimusbe listed as Least Concern. We welcome any comments on this 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.

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: 273-281.

BirdLife International. 2019. Species factsheet: Picumnus minutissimus. (Accessed 13/02/2019).

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 2002. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 7: Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

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: 520-523.

Spaans, A. L.; Ottema, O. H.; Ribot, J. H. J. M. 2016. Field Guide to the Birds of Suriname. Brill, Leiden, Netherlands and Boston, U.S.A.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical Birds: Ecology and Conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

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.

Winkler, H.; Christie, D. A.; Sharpe, C. J.; Motis, A. 2019. Arrowhead Piculet (Picumnus minutissimus). 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 13/02/2019).

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1 Response to Archived 2019 topic: Arrowhead Piculet (Picumnus minutissimus): revise global status?

  1. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Preliminary proposal
    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2019 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 2019 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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