Archived 2010-2011 topics: Cochabamba Mountain-finch (Compsospiza garleppi): request for information

Link to BirdLife species factsheet for Cochabamba Mountain-finch

Cochabamba Mountain-finch Compsospiza garleppi is listed as Endangered under criterion B1a+b(i,ii,iii,v) because it occupies an Extent of Occurrence (EOO) estimated at less than 5,000 km2, in which its habitat is severely fragmented and its population is suspected to be in decline owing to continued habitat loss and degradation through clearance for settlements, firewood collection, planting of Eucalyptus and conversion to cultivation and pasture (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Fjeldså and Kessler 1996, S. K. Herzog in litt. 1999, N. E. Huanca-Llanos in litt 2007). The species may also suffer some mortality through poisoning by pesticides and an unquantified level of persecution by children, as well as reduced breeding success caused by disturbance (Huanca et al. 2009). The rate of population decline is currently suspected to be equivalent to 10-19% over 10 years.

Interestingly, fieldwork conducted by Haunca et al. (2009) suggests that the species is tolerant of small-scale habitat alteration and destruction caused by human activities, but appears to be absent from highly degraded areas devoid of native vegetation. The same observations raise the question of whether the species actually benefits from the mosaic of habitats that can result from small-scale modifications by humans and whether it can benefit from the supplemental food provided by crops not sprayed with pesticides (see Huanca et al. 2009).

The species’s range map has recently been updated with reference to records published by Balderrama (2009), giving a new EOO estimate of 3,800 km2. This represents only a small increase on the previous estimate and suggests that the species should remain listed as Endangered under the B1 criterion. It has been noted, however, that the last known estimate for the entire population was published in 1992, when it was put at 400-4,000 mature individuals (Collar et al. 1992).

Given that our knowledge of this species has improved greatly since the last population estimate was made, it would be appropriate to seek an up-to-date estimate of the population size, as well as more information on the likely population trend over 11 years (estimate of three generations) and the current severity of threats faced by the species.

Balderrama, J. A. (2009) Range extension for the endangered Cochabamba Mountain-Finch (Compsospiza garleppi) in Bolivia and new avifaunal records for Potosí department. Ecología en Bolivia 44: 67-69.

Collar, N. J., Gonzaga, L. P., Krabbe, N., Madroño Nieto, A., Naranjo, L. G., Parker, T. A. and Wege, D. C. (1992) Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. Cambridge, U.K.: International Council for Bird Preservation.

Dinerstein, E., Olson, D. M., Graham, D. J., Webster, A. L., Primm, S. A., Bookbinder, M. P. and Ledec, G. (1995) A conservation assesssment of the terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

Fjeldså, J. and Kessler, M. (1996) Conserving the biological diversity of Polylepis woodlands of the highland of Peru and Bolivia. Copenhagen, Denmark: NORDECO.

Huanca, N. E., Hosner, P. A. and Hennessey, A. B. (2009) Nests, vocalizations, and conservation status of endangered Cochabamba Mountain-Finches (Compsospiza garleppi). J. Field Ornithol. 80: 215-223.

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2 Responses to Archived 2010-2011 topics: Cochabamba Mountain-finch (Compsospiza garleppi): request for information

  1. To the best of my knowledge, this request for information (posted by Taylor on 1 Dec 2010) provides a thorough and accurate assessment of the threats faced by Cochabamaba Mountain-finch populations. I believe that further fieldwork and exploration in the region will reveal previously unknown sites where Cochabamba Mountain-finches occur (like Balderrama 2009), but given the fragmentation of their habitat (both natural and anthropogenic) and low population densities, these new populations are likely to be small.

  2. The information posted by Taylor, resumes the threats faced by Cochabamaba Mountain-finch populations, but I think that the most important and preoccupant threat actually is the burning, especially in the Tunari basin.
    The new population that I found in Potosi department is relatively well protected; there still are some good patches of Polylepis neglecta and some other vegetation and habitat need for this species. It is very important to continue fieldwork and exploration, especially en Potosi department, where this species is not so rare and is even relatively frequent in some places.
    In most of the populations that I visited (ca.20 localities) mortality through poisoning is very infrequent, and some populations persists even in absence of Polylepis woodlands and with considerable habitat alteration (small houses and agrosilvicultural landscapes), but some others populations historically mentioned are totally removed.

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