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.
Fea’s Petrel Pterodroma feae is being split into P. feae and P. deserta, following published studies (e.g. Robb et al. 2008, Jesus et al. 2009), in particular highlighting differences between these taxa in breeding seasonality and vocalisations.
Prior to this taxonomic change, P. feae (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as Near Threatened under criteria D1+2, on the basis that it was estimated to have a small population (c.2,000 mature individuals), breeding on only five islands, and facing a number of threats, but there was no evidence of an overall decline. Nevertheless, its restricted breeding range was considered as rendering it moderately susceptible to stochastic events and human impacts.
P. deserta breeds on Bugio in the Desertas Islands, and a recently published study has cast light on the species’s non-breeding distribution, with 17 tracked individuals remaining in the North Atlantic during the pre-laying exodus, incubation and check-rearing periods, and wintering in five areas: two off the Brazilian coast, one around the Cape Verde archipelago, one off the south-eastern coast of the USA, and one in pelagic waters in the central South Atlantic (Ramírez et al. 2013).
It is suggested that the species be listed as Vulnerable, as proposed by Jesus et al. (2009), under criteria D1+2, on the basis that the population is estimated to include fewer than 1,000 mature individuals (120-150 pairs in 2006-2007), but is thought to be stable (Ramírez 2008) and, although the species is the subject of effective conservation actions, its restriction to one location when breeding renders it susceptible to stochastic events such as severe weather events and the introduction of non-native species, such that it could potentially be driven to qualify as Critically Endangered or Extinct within one or two generations.
P. feae breeds in the Cape Verde Islands, where an estimated 500-1,000 pairs breed (Hazevoet 1995, Ratcliffe et al. 2000), although this must be regarded as an absolute minimum as further colonies probably exist on Fogo and Santa Antão, and individuals have also been observed breeding in the central mountain range of Santiago island (Ratcliffe et al. 2000). There is no evidence of any declines, thus it is suggested that it be listed as Near Threatened under criterion D2, on the basis that it occurs at only a few locations, where it is moderately susceptible to the impacts of stochastic events and human activities, but is unlikely to qualify as Critically Endangered or Extinct within one or two generations as a result of any known and plausible threats.
Comments are invited on these suggested categories and further information would be welcomed.
Hazevoet, C. J. (1995) The birds of the Cape Verde Islands. Tring, UK: British Ornithologists’ Union (Check-list 13).
Jesus, J., Menezes, D., Gomes, S., Oliveira, P., Nogales, M. and Brehm, A. (2009) Phylogenetic relationships of gadfly petrels Pterodroma spp. from the Northeastern Atlantic Ocean: molecular evidence for specific status of Bugio and Cape Verde petrels and implications for conservation. Bird Conservation International 19: 199–214.
Ramírez, I. (2008) Thought you knew about Fea’s Petrel? It’s time to think again. Sea Change: 9.
Ramírez, I., Paiva, V. H., Menezes, D., Silva, I., Phillips, R. A., Ramos, J. A. and Garthe, S. (2013) Year-round distribution and habitat preferences of the Bugio petrel. Marine Ecology Progress Series 476: 269–284.
Ratcliffe, N., Zino, F. J., Oliveira, P., Vasconcelos, A., Hazevoet, C. J., Neves, H. C., Monteiro, L. R. and Zino, E. A. (2000) The status and distribution of Fea’s Petrel Pterodroma feae in the Cape Verde Islands. Atlantic Seabirds 2: 73–86.
Robb, M., Mullarney, K. & the Sound Approach (2008) Petrels night and day: a Sound Approach guide. Poole, UK: The Sound Approach.
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.