Archived 2014 discussion: List newly-described Seram Masked-owl (Tyto almae) as Data Deficient?

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.

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.

Tyto almae was newly-described by Jonsson et al. (2013) and is to be recognised as a species by BirdLife International following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Tyto almae is apparently endemic to the island of Seram (Indonesia), where both known records of Tyto owls are from within the protected Manusela National Park, which covers about 10% of the 17,100 km2.island (Jonsson et al. 2013). The type specimen was mist-netted in wet, mossy lower montane forest at an elevation of 1,350 m. The national park is one of the only areas on Seram likely to be visited by ornithologists and so the lack of records elsewhere on the island does not necessarily imply the species’ absence.

The natural vegetation of Seram is tropical lowland evergreen and semi-evergreen rainforest, with tropical montane rainforest above c.800 m. It is still well-forested, although the low-lying areas where the human population is concentrated along the coast and in the west have been cleared (BirdLife International 2014).

Since so little is known about its distribution, population size, trend and habitat requirements, it is very difficult to assess the threat status of this species, although the little information available suggests that it may occur at rather low population densities within montane and perhaps lowland rain forest and may not be threatened at present (Jonsson et al. 2013). It may not be possible to derive a reliable estimate of the population trend from available information, although the species is unlikely to be in rapid decline. Based on currently available information it may not be possible to produce even a preliminary estimate of the population size, or to produce a robust range size estimate.

It is therefore suggested that T. almae be listed as Data Deficient on the basis that there is insufficient information available for a robust assessment of its threat status against the IUCN Red List criteria.

Comments are invited and further information would be welcomed.


BirdLife International (2014) Endemic Bird Area factsheet: Seram. Downloaded from on 04/04/2014

Jønsson, K.  A., Poulsen, M.  K., Haryoko, T., Reeve, A. H., and Fabre, P-H. 2013. A new species of masked-owl (Aves: Strigiformes: Tytonidae) from Seram, Indonesia. Zootaxa 3635: 51-61.

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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2 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: List newly-described Seram Masked-owl (Tyto almae) as Data Deficient?

  1. Andy Symes says:

    Preliminary proposals

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

    T. almae as Data Deficient.

    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 category will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in mid-2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessment by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  2. Andy Symes says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

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

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

Comments are closed.