Archived 2016 topics: Buff-breasted Mountain-tanager (Dubusia taeniata) is being split: request for information on D. carrikeri.

This is part of a consultation on the Red List implications of extensive changes to BirdLife’s taxonomy for passerines

Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish the second volume of the HBW-BirdLife Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, building off the Handbook of the Birds of the World series, and BirdLife’s annually updated taxonomic checklist.

The new Checklist will be based on the application of criteria for recognising species limits described by Tobias et al. (2010). Full details of the specific scores and the basis of these for each new taxonomic revision will be provided in the Checklist.

Following publication, an open and transparent mechanism will be established to allow people to comment on the taxonomic revisions or suggest new ones, and provide new information of relevance in order to inform regular updates. We are also actively seeking input via a discussion topic here regarding some potential taxonomic revisions that currently lack sufficient information.

The new Checklist will form the taxonomic basis of BirdLife’s assessments of the status of the world’s birds for the IUCN Red List. The taxonomic changes that will appear in volume 2 of the checklist (for passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2016 Red List update, with the remainder to be incorporated into subsequent Red List updates.

Preliminary Red List assessments have been carried out for the newly split or lumped taxa. We are now requesting comments and feedback on these preliminary assessments.

Buff-breasted Mountain-tanager Dubusia taeniata is being split into D. taeniata, D. stictocephala and D. carrikeri, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, D. taeniata was listed as Least Concern, on the basis that it did not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion. D. taeniata (as now defined following the taxonomic change) and D. stictocephala are not thought to approach the threshold for Vulnerable and so likely warrant listing as Least Concern.

D. carrikeri is found only in montane forest of the Santa Marta region of northern Colombia, and appears to require large areas of intact forest (Hilty 2016). Yet the remaining forest in the Santa Marta mountains is threatened by agricultural expansion, logging and burning. Possibly only 15% of the vegetation is unaltered, and much of the forest in certain areas has been cleared for coffee and illegal marijuana plantations, which have been subsequently sprayed with herbicide by the government (Stattersfieldet al. 1998). Therefore this species is thought to be in decline. While the pre-split species was thought to be ‘fairly common’ (Hilty 2016), further information regarding population size and trends may mean this species warrants listing as Vulnerable or possibly Endangered. However, in the absence of any further information it is proposed that this species be listed as Near Threatened under criteria A2c+3c+4c; B1ab(i,ii,iii,v).

Comments are invited on these proposed categories and further information would be welcomed.


Hilty, S. 2016. Buff-breasted Mountain-tanager (Dubusia taeniata). 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. (retrieved from on 17 October 2016).

Stattersfield, A. J., Crosby, M. J., Long, A. J. and Wege, D. C. 1998. Endemic bird areas of the world: priorities for bird conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Tobias, J. A., Seddon, N., Spottiswoode, C. N., Pilgrim, J. D., Fishpool, L. D. C. and Collar, N. J. 2010. Quantitative criteria for species delimitation. Ibis 152: 724–746.

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2 Responses to Archived 2016 topics: Buff-breasted Mountain-tanager (Dubusia taeniata) is being split: request for information on D. carrikeri.

  1. Thomas Donegan says:

    I just wanted to register very strong support for these splits which are evidenced by very obvious vocal differentiation of all three populations.

    carrikeri appears to be very rare indeed and the high elevations of Santa Marta are in a bad state. Recent forest fires (reported on ProAves website) decimated the top part of the mountain last year, and are a consequence of not just El Nino but also desertification of the region in general and irresponsible ecotourism (campfire started it). There are several threats to this and other high elevation species. Recent analysis of climate change effects on Colombian birds had all the high elevation Santa Marta species likely near-extinct within lifetimes of some living people today. This looks more like an EN than an NT candidate, in my view.

  2. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to list:

    D. taeniata and D. stictocephala as Least Concern.

    D. carrikeri as Endangered under criterion C2a(ii).

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 28 October, 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 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.

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