Archived 2014 discussion: Crescent-chested Puffbird (Malacoptila striata) is being split: list M. minor as Critically Endangered and M. striata as Near Threatened?

The initial deadline for comments on this topic is 28 April 2014, and therefore later than for most other topics currently under discussion.

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

Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish 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 1 of the checklist (for non-passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2014 Red List update, with the remainder, and those for passerines (which will appear in volume 2 of the checklist), 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.

Crescent-chested Puffbird Malacoptila striata is being split into M. striata and M. minor, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, M. striata (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as being of Least Concern, on the basis that it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN Red List criteria, although its population trend was regarded as unknown.

M. minor is endemic to Brazil, where it is only known from the states of Maranhão and Piauí and inhabits the understorey of Terra Firme forest (

This species occupies a region of rapid and extensive deforestation. It is projected to lose c.86-89% of its extent of suitable habitat in the Amazonian portion of its range over 19 years (estimate of three generations), as projected after 2002 using a model of forest loss in the Amazon basin (Soares-Filho et al. 2006).

Following the methods used by Bird et al. (2011), and assuming that the projected rate of forest loss is representative of the entire range of this species, this analysis suggests that its population will decline by more than 80% over three generations from 2002. This implies that the species qualifies as Critically Endangered under criterion A4c; however, comments are requested on whether this listing would be appropriate. For example, if its level of tolerance to degraded habitat and habitat edges is as high as it appears to be in the nominate part of the split, the listing suggested for M. minor by the deforestation analysis might be too pessimistic. Information on the likely population size of this fairly restricted range species is also requested.

M. striata (as defined following the taxonomic change) is endemic to Brazil, where it occurs in the Atlantic Forest region from southern Bahia south to Santa Catarina, and inhabits humid lowland forest, logged forest, secondary growth, forest edge, bamboo groves and glades (del Hoyo et al. 2002,

This species occupies a range that has been heavily deforested, and deforestation in this region is said to have been particularly severe since the early 1970s (Tabarelli et al. 2005). It has been estimated that 7-12% remains of the original extent of Atlantic Forest in Brazil (Tabarelli et al. 2005, Ribeiro et al. 2009), some of which now exists in ‘archipelagos’ of tiny and widely scattered fragments (Tabarelli et al. 2005).

The proportion of the original forest cover that remains in the biogeographical sub-regions that overlap with this species’s range (Bahia, Serra do Mar, Interior and Araucaria) varies from 7 to 36%, with 3-25% of that remaining forest protected (Ribeiro et al. 2009). Across the Atlantic Forest region in Brazil, it has been estimated that 42% of the total area of remaining forest exists in fragments of less than 250 ha (Ribeiro et al. 2009).

The extensive loss of Brazil’s Atlantic forests suggests that this species is in decline. Information is requested on the likely rate of population decline in this species, as estimated, projected or suspected over a period of 19 years (estimate of three generations) into the past or future. The response of the population will of course be influenced by the species’s level of forest dependence and its tolerance of secondary forest and forest edge, thus comments on these factors are also invited.

The thresholds under the A criterion are a 25-29% decline for Near Threatened, 30-49% for Vulnerable and 50-79% for Endangered. It is suggested here that the species could be declining at a rate of 25-29% over 19 years, and therefore may qualify as Near Threatened.

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


Bird, J. P., Buchanan, G. M., Lees, A. C., Clay, R. P., Develey. P. F., Yépez, I. and 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 DOI: 10.1111/j.1472 4642.2011.00843.x.

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2002) Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 7: Jacamars to Woodpeckers. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Ribeiro, M. C., Metzger, J. P., Martensen, A. C., Ponzoni, F. J. and Hirota, M. M. (2009) The Brazilian Atlantic Forest: How much is left, and how is the remaining forest distributed? Implications for conservation. Biological Conservation 142: 1141–1153.

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. and Schlesinger, P. (2006) Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin. Nature 440: 520–523.

Tabarelli, M., Pinto, L. P., Silva, J. M. C., Hirota, M. and Bedê, L. (2005) Challenges and Opportunities for Biodiversity Conservation in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Conservation Biology 19(3): 695–700.

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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3 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: Crescent-chested Puffbird (Malacoptila striata) is being split: list M. minor as Critically Endangered and M. striata as Near Threatened?

  1. Glauco Kohler says:

    I refrain from comments on M. minor, due to my lack of empirical knowledge on its biology and ecology. About M. striata, I reinforce the proposed relocate it to “near threatened” because, although occupy forest edges, uncharacterized environments, or pioneer vegetation habitat, this species has a limiting factor to establish populations, that is availability of nesting sites (steep land slopes or cavities of hollow trees). These sites have become unavailable in a gradually accelerating rate of deforestation, and especially human occupation. Furthermore in certain places in Atlantic Forest, feral populations of Apis melifera bees, derived from beekeeping leaks, has occupied natural cavities in forest remnants, contributing to the decrease in the number of available nesting sites for this and other native species.

  2. Andy Symes says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposals for the 2014 Red List would be to treat:

    M. striata as Near Threatened, approaching the thresholds for classification as Vulnerable under criterion A2ac+3ac+4ac

    M. minor as Endangered under criterion A4c.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 14 May, after which recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in mid-2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  3. Andy Symes says:

    Recommended categorisations to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there have been no changes to our preliminary proposals for the 2014 Red List status of these species.

    The final categorisations will be published in mid-2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.