Archived 2017 topics: Grey-breasted Parakeet (Pyrrhura griseipectus): downlist from Critically Endangered to Endangered?

This discussion was first published as part of the 2016 Red List update. At the time a decision regarding its status was pended, but to enable potential reassessment of this species as part of the 2017 Red List update this post remained open and the date of posting was updated.

BirdLife species factsheet for Grey-breasted Parakeet

Grey-breasted Parakeet is known historically from 15 locations in Brazil (Anon. 2014). It now only occurs in three areas in Ceará state:  the Serra do Baturité, Quixadá (C. Albano in litt. 2006, Waugh et al. 2010) and most recently from a rocky mountainside in Ceará where five birds were recorded in March 2014 (Anon. 2014). The species is listed as Critically Endangered under C2a(ii). The population at the Baturité Mountains Environmental Protection Area is estimated to be c. 250 birds, and the discovery in 2010 of a population of c. 50 birds in Quixadá raises the known global population to c. 300 birds (Waugh et al. 2010). This roughly equates to 200 mature individuals. The population is suspected to be declining rapidly owing to heavy trapping and ongoing habitat loss within its range.

The species occurs in montane (above 500 m) humid forest enclaves in the otherwise semi-arid north-east Brazil. Habitat destruction has played a role in the species’s decline with original forest cover now reduced to just 13%. The principal threat, however, is believed to come from ongoing trapping for illegal local and national trade (C. Albano in litt. 2006, Anon. 2009) and captive-breeding (Fernandes-Ferreira et al. 2012). The species occurs in the international cage bird trade.

In the Brazilian Red List assessment for birds (MMA 2014) this species is listed as Endangered under B1ab (i,ii,iii,iv,v). The assessment provided an estimated Extent of Occurrence (EOO) of 660 km2 and the population was estimated to be severely fragmented and undergoing a continuing decline in EOO, Area of Occupancy, habitat quality, number of subpopulations and mature individuals. The species’s assessment on the Brazilian Red List can be accessed here. The species was previously considered Critically Endangered under B1ab(i) on the Brazilian Red List (Machado et al. 2008).

For the species to no longer be considered Critically Endangered under C2a(ii) either the population would need to be greater than 250 mature individuals, the population would need to no longer be in continuing decline, or the largest subpopulation would need to comprise fewer than 90-100% of mature individuals.

Up-to-date information is requested on the species. Is the population now >250 mature individuals? Are 90-100% of mature individuals found in one subpopulation? Should information be provided to show that the population is now >250 mature individuals then the species would warrant downlisting to Endangered under C2a(ii), in addition to B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v) and C2a(i) (should the number of mature individuals in each subpopulation be <250).


Comments on the proposed downlisting are welcome.

Anon. 2009. The Grey-breasted Parakeet: flagship for a unique forest. Cyanopsitta: 18-20.

Anon. 2014. New population of critically endangered parakeet found in north-east Brazil. World Birdwatch 36(3): 9.

Fernandes-Ferreira, H., Mendonça, S.V., Albano, C., Ferreira, F.S. and Alves, R.R.N. 2012. Hunting, use and conservation of birds in Northeast Brazil. Biodiversity and Conservation 21(1): 221-244.

Machado, A.B.M., Drummond, G.M. and Paglia, A.P. (2008) Livro Vermelho da Fauna Brasileira Ameaçada de Extinção – Volume 1. Biodiversidade 19. Brasiliera, DF.

MMA (2014) Lista Nacional Oficial de Espécies da Fauna Ameaçadas de Extinção. Portaria No 444, de 17 de dezembro de 2014. Diário Oficial da União – Seção 1. Nº 245, quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2014.

Waugh, D; Girao, W.; Albano, C.; Campos, A. 2010. A double boost for the Grey-breasted Parakeet. Cyanopsitta: 19-20.

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3 Responses to Archived 2017 topics: Grey-breasted Parakeet (Pyrrhura griseipectus): downlist from Critically Endangered to Endangered?

  1. Fabio Nunes says:

    Aquasis has been recognized as Species Guardian of the Grey-breasted parakeet since 2008. We have developed a series of effective conservation actions and been monitoring the species population since 2007.

    Geographic range (B)
    Given the documented increase of the species range in the Baturité Mountains, and our knowledge regarding the current status of the only two other known, and very small, populations in Quixadá and Ibaretama, we calculate the extent of occurrence (B1) of the Grey-breasted Parakeet to be about 141 Km2 at this time. Thus, we recommend that the species conservation status be considered as EN B1ab(iv).

    Population size (C).
    As a result of Aquasis coordinating intense species management actions involving an emergency nest box intervention, the Grey-Breasted Parakeet Conservation Project has documented 442 individuals successfully fledging from the nest box network since 2010. Chicks have been banded and observed after fledging, and some of them are now breeding in the nest boxes. Additionally, our execution of environmental educational and outreach campaigns in local communities has resulted in a notable decrease in the illegal capture and trade of the species, which is reflected by our documentation of increased breeding activity in naturally occurring tree cavities. Considering all of the relevant data available from the last 10 years, we can say that both the size of the groups observed and the area occupied by the species in the Baturité Mountains are slowly increasing. An official population census is scheduled for next year, but based on our extensive field experience we can estimate with some degree of confidence that the total population size of Grey-breasted Parakeets in the Baturité Mountains is between 600-800 individuals at this time. In Quixadá, we estimate the species population to be between 50-60 individuals, while in Ibaretama, only 6 individuals have been documented so far. Thus, we hypothesize that at least 95% of all mature individuals of the species occur in a single subpopulation (Baturité Mountains), supporting our recommendation that the species be classified as EN C2a(ii), largely based on this single criterion.

    Reduction in population size (A).
    The Grey-Breasted Parakeet depends on humid and sub-humid forests that are highly fragmented and isolated in the semi-arid region of Northeast Brazil, which is dominated by a diversity of dry forest, shrub and savannah habitats that are characteristic of the Caatinga biome. The species’ dependence on humid and sub-humid forest habitats is confirmed by current and historical records of occurrence, including museum specimens and the scientific literature. Since 2007, Aquasis has realized 25 field expeditions to search for evidence of the species in select areas of it former known distribution, conducted 268 interviews with people from local communities and surveyed the collections of 10 museums around the world (Nunes et al., 2014). Of the 50 study skins analyzed in museum collections, 29 had detailed information regarding their geographic origin. Ethnobiological surveys indicate 15 locations that were likely to be a part of the species historical distribution until at least the early 1950s. In many cases, interviewees were able to describe specific details of the species’ behavior, appearance and distinguish them from pictures of other bird species. The interviews also inquired about the approximate year each respondent had seen the species for the last time, which we subsequently grouped into 10-year periods (50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s). Field surveys showed that the species is currently present at only three locations in the state of Ceará: Baturité Mountains, Quixadá and Ibaretama. Despite the discovery of these two new locations, our findings indicate a chronology of rapid local extinctions in areas of the species’ known historical distribution. Specifically, in the 1950’s the species was present in 15 areas; In the 1970’s, in 11 areas; in the 1990’s in eight areas; and in 2016 it is only present in three locations.

    We calculate the species’ generation time as:

    1st reproduction + (longevity – Age of the first reproduction)

    Although our field research indicates cases of the species breeding in its first year, the literature suggests that they delay breeding until the second year. Observation of captive individuals indicates the species’ longevity to be 18 – 20 years. Given that longevity in captivity is generally greater, we hypothesize that longevity in the wild should be around 14 years. Applying the above formula to these variables, we estimate generation time to be 8 years. Multiplying this value by three (three generations), gives us 24 years to consider in the analyses (between 1992 and 2016).

    The extent of occurrence of the species in 1992 was estimated based on a consideration of the altitude of mountainous areas that could support the existence of appropriate humid forest habitat, using the minimum convex polygon. The eight locations determined in this way include; 1. Ibiapaba Mountain (3088 Km2), 2. Uruburetama Mountain (74 Km2), 3. Machado Mountain (87 Km2), 4. Serra Negra (34 Km2), 5. Serra Do Céu (8 Km2), 6. Baturité Mountain (217 Km2), 7. Quixadá (4 Km2) and 8. Ibaretama (3 Km2), for a total area of possible occurrence in 1992 of about 3515 Km2.

    The extent of occurrence of the species in 2016 was calculated based on the locations where it is currently known to be present, using the minimum convex polygon. These three areas are: 1. Baturité Mountain (138 Km2), 2. Quixadá (4 Km2) and 3. Ibaretama (3 Km2), for a total current geographic distribution of only 141 km2.

    Thus, we reaffirm that our analysis of all the available data indicates the species has suffered an overall reduction of 96% in the extent of historical area of occurrence, and as such, should be classified as CR A1c.

  2. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to pend the decision on this species and keep this discussion open until 2017, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2016 update.

    Final 2016 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  3. Hannah Wheatley (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 4 August, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2017 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.