Archived 2014 discussion: Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita) is being split: list both L. ignita and L. rufa as Near Threatened?

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.

Crested Fireback Lophura ignita is being split into L. ignita and L. rufa, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, L. ignita (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as Near Threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd, on the basis that it was suspected to be undergoing a moderately rapid population decline (approaching 30% over three generations [c.15 years]) owing to on-going habitat loss and hunting pressure. Its occurrence in logged forest suggests that the rate of decline is not more rapid than this.

L. ignita (as defined following the taxonomic change, and incorporating nobilis) is found on Borneo and Bangka Island, off southern Sumatra, where it appears to rely on lowland primary forest, and may tolerate some habitat degradation (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Madge and McGowan 2002).

L. rufa (incorporating macartneyi) is found in the Thai-Malay Peninsula and Sumatra, including Bangka Island, where this species appears to prefer lowland primary forest, with some records from secondary and logged forest (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Madge and McGowan 2002).

Both species could qualify as Near Threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd, on the basis of suspected moderately rapid population declines (approaching 30% over three generations [c.15 years]), owing to on-going habitat loss and hunting pressure. However, given the estimated three-generation trend period for these species and rates of forest loss in the region, it may be unlikely that their rates of decline are this rapid. Rates of forest loss between 2000 and 2010 have been estimated at 23.7% for Sumatra, 12.0% for Borneo and 8.2% for Peninsular Malaysia (Miettinen et al. 2011). Even factoring in hunting pressure and the effects of habitat degradation, these species may only be undergoing moderate declines. If this is thought to be the case, and these species are thought to have populations numbering substantially more than 10,000 mature individuals, they would likely warrant listing as being of Least Concern, on the basis that they do not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN Red List criteria.

Comments are invited and further information would be welcomed.


del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1994) Handbook of the birds of the world, Vol 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.

Madge, S. and McGowan, P. (2002) Pheasants, partridges and grouse: including buttonquails, sandgrouse and allies. London: Christopher Helm (Helm Identification Guide).

Miettinen, J., Chenghua Shi and Soo Chin Liew (2011) Deforestation rates in insular Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2010. Global Change Biology 17: 2261–2270.

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: Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita) is being split: list both L. ignita and L. rufa as Near Threatened?

  1. Ding Li Yong says:

    Both I. rufa and I. ignita appears to be locally common, especially in relatively well-protected sites like Danum Valley and Taman Negara National Park, but are obviously vulnerable to trapping. Unlike the now split Crestless Fireback, these taxa are more dependant on forest at hilly elevations so are comparatively less threatened. I. rufa seems to be more insensitive to disturbance because it is absent or occur in extremely low densities in logged and secondary forests. There are no recent records from Panti forest reserve and I did not encounter any during 60 days of field survey in logged forest in Tasik Kenyir. There are few records in Peninsular Malaysia outside of Taman Negara although the species show up in checklists of many sites. In Sumatra, it is only regularly encountered at Way Kambas National Park to my info. On the other hand, I. ignita appears less sensitive and I have found it in logged forest outside the Danum Valley Conservation area, and even remnant patches of logged forest outside of the Semenggoh Forest Reserve, Kuching, Sarawak. Both should deserve at least a near-threatened based on inferred population declines as a result of rapid habitat loss across the Sundas (to top off hunting pressures and the taxa’s dependance on closed forest understoreys)

  2. Joe Taylor says:

    Preliminary proposals

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

    L. ignita as Near Threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd

    L. rufa as Near Threatened under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 31 March, 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 later in 2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by BirdLife and IUCN.

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