BirdLife species factsheet for Great Argus
Great Argus (Argusianus argus) occurs in the Sundaic lowlands from the Thai-Malay Peninsula to the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. It inhabits tall primary, secondary and logged forests, preferring intact, undisturbed forest with large trees and open understory (Dinata et al. 2008, Winarni et al. 2009). The population is thought to number more than 100,000 individuals; it is here tentatively placed in the band 100,000-499,999 mature individuals.
Great Argus is undergoing a decline caused by hunting and habitat loss. Forest destruction in the Sundaic lowlands of Indonesia and Malaysia has been extensive because of a variety of factors, including the escalation of logging and land conversion, with deliberate targeting of all remaining stands of valuable timber, and forest fires. Population declines caused by habitat loss are compounded by trapping for the cage-bird trade, as the species is facing a high pressure from hunting (Symes et al. 2018).
Great Argus is currently listed as Near Threatened, approaching the threshold for listing as threatened under Criterion A2cd+3cd+4cd (BirdLife International 2020). However, new information regarding the population trend suggests that the species may warrant a change in Red List status. Therefore, it will be re-assessed against all criteria:
Criterion A – Great Argus is undergoing a rapid decline caused by habitat loss and hunting. A study investigating the combined impact of these threats found that habitat within the range has been lost at a rate of 16.4% over 16.2 years (Symes et al. 2018; see also Tracewski et al. 2016). The species is also facing high hunting pressure, which accounts for additional declines of 52.8% over the same period, so that the population would overall be declining at a rate of up to 69.2% over 16.2 years (Symes et al. 2018). Following a thorough reassessment, one generation length is now thought to be 7.9 years for this species (see Bird et al. 2020)*. Hence, the relevant timeframe for an assessment against Criterion A is 23.7 years. A population decline of 69.2% over 16.2 years equates to a decline of up to 82% over 23.7 years. Very high rates of decline were even observed within protected areas, where the species was found to decline at a rate of >50% over three generations (Dawrueng et al. 2017). We can assume that declines are continuing at the same high rate into the future. The species would thus meet the threshold for listing as Critically Endangered under Criterion A2acd+3cd+4acd.
Criterion B – The Extent of Occurrence (EOO) for this species is 3,430,000 km2. This is too large to warrant a listing as threatened under Criterion B1, and therefore the species may be considered Least Concern under this criterion. The Area of Occupancy (AOO) has not been quantified according to IUCN guidelines (see IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee 2019), and thus the species cannot be assessed against Criterion B2.
Criterion C – The global population numbers more than 100,000 mature individuals; it therefore qualifies for listing as Least Concern under Criterion C.
Criterion D – The global population and range are too large to warrant a listing as threatened under Criterion D, and the species is therefore classified as Least Concern under this criterion.
Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge no quantitative analysis of extinction risk has been conducted for this species. Therefore, it cannot be assessed against this criterion.
Therefore, it is suggested that Great Argus (Argusianus argus) be listed as Critically Endangered under Criterion A2acd+3cd+4acd. We welcome any comments on the proposed listing.
Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of its Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are relevant to the discussion outlined in the topic. By submitting a comment, you confirm that you agree to the Comment Policy.
*Bird generation lengths are estimated using the methodology of Bird et al. (2020), as applied to parameter values updated for use in each IUCN Red List for birds reassessment cycle. Values used for the current assessment are available on request. We encourage people to contact us with additional or improved values for the following parameters; adult survival (true survival accounting for dispersal derived from an apparently stable population); mean age at first breeding; and maximum longevity (i.e. the biological maximum, hence values from captive individuals are acceptable).
An information booklet on the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here and the Red List Criteria Summary Sheet can be downloaded here. Detailed guidance on IUCN Red List terms and definitions and the application of the Red List Categories and Criteria can be downloaded here.
Bird, J. P.; Martin, R.; Akçakaya, H. R.; Gilroy, J.; Burfield, I. J.; Garnett, S.; Symes, A.; Taylor, J.; Šekercioğlu, Ç.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2020. Generation lengths of the world’s birds and their implications for extinction risk. Conservation Biology online first view.
BirdLife International. 2020. Species factsheet: Argusianus argus. http://www.birdlife.org (Accessed 18 May 2020).
Dawrueng, T.; Ngoprasert, D.; Gale, G. A.; Browne, S.; Savini, T. 2017. Effect of landscape variables on the long-term decline of Great Argus in the rainforest of Southern Thailand. Bird Conservation International 27: 282-293.
Dinata, Y.; Nugroho, A.; Haidir, I. A.; Linkie, M. 2008. Camera trapping rare and threatened avifauna in west-central Sumatra. Bird Conservation International 18(1): 30-37.
IUCN Standards and Petitions Committee. 2019. Guidelines for using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 14. http://www.iucnredlist.org/documents/RedListGuidelines.pdf.
Symes, W. S.; Edwards, D. P.; Miettinen, J.; Rheindt, F. E.; Carrasco, L. R. 2018. Combined impacts of deforestation and wildlife trade on tropical biodiversity are severely underestimated. Nature Communications 9: 4052.
Tracewski, Ł.; Butchart, S. H. M.; Di Marco, M.; Ficetola, G. F.; Rondinini, C.; Symes, A.; Wheatley, H.; Beresford, A. E.; Buchanan, G. M. 2016. Toward quantification of the impact of 21st-century deforestation on the extinction risk of terrestrial vertebrates. Conservation Biology 30: 1070-1079.
Winarni, N. L.; O’Brien, T. G.; Carroll, J. P.; Kinnaird, M. F. 2009. Movements, distribution and abundance of Great Argus Pheasants (Argusianus argus) in a Sumatran rainforest. The Auk 126(2): 341-350.