Archived 2014 discussion: Red-lored Amazon (Amazona autumnalis) is being split: list A. lilacina and A. diadema as Endangered and A. autumnalis as Least Concern?

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. 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.

Red-lored Amazon Amazona autumnalis is being split into A. autumnalis, A. lilacina and A. diadema, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to the taxonomic change, A. autumnalis (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as being of Least Concern, on the basis that it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN Red List criteria.

A. lilacina is endemic to Ecuador, where it occurs widely but very sparsely on the Pacific slope. Fieldwork along c.40% of the coastline of Ecuador in November 2012 produced records from four sites, with a minimum of 225 individuals seen in total (M. Pilgrim and B. Biddle in litt. 2013). At these four sites there was a presence of both mangrove and dry tropical forest, which seems to be a combination of habitats that has become rare owing to urbanisation and aquaculture development. The coastal population of the species appears as a result to exist in small and isolated sub-populations. This fieldwork also suggested that the local pet trade in A. lilacina is occurring on a small scale; for example, within one village close to an occupied site there were at least four individuals being kept as pets and a further 10 in a neighbouring village. A further threat to the species was noted to be the unwitting breeding of hybrids with race salvini for release as part of local conservation efforts (M. Pilgrim and B. Biddle in litt. 2013).

This species appears to have a population of far fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, with an estimate of 400-600 individuals given by Juniper and Parr (1998), which is also cited by Berg and Angel (2006), who estimated 214 birds at one roost in south-western Ecuador. Assuming that the population is indeed below 2,500 mature individuals and inferred to be in continuing decline owing to on-going deforestation and trapping (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, Berg and Angel 2006), this species may qualify as Endangered under criterion C2, if at least 95% of all mature individuals form one sub-population, or with multiple sub-populations of no more than 250 mature individuals each, where the IUCN defines sub-populations as “geographically or otherwise distinct groups in the population between which there is little demographic or genetic exchange (typically one successful migrant individual or gamete per year or less)” (IUCN 2001).

This species may also qualify as threatened under criterion A, based on the estimated, projected or suspected rate of population decline over a period of three generations, estimated by BirdLife to be 37 years for this species (based on an estimated generation length of 12.3 years). The thresholds for the rate of decline over this time period are 25-29% for Near Threatened, 30-49% for Vulnerable, 50-79% for Endangered and ≥ 80% for Critically Endangered.

A. diadema is endemic to Amazonas state in Brazil. It is suggested that this species qualifies as Endangered under criterion A4cd, on the basis of projected rates of forest loss since 2002 according to a model of deforestation in the Amazon basin (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). This analysis is presented in a separate forum topic, where comments are invited on the data used; however, input is also requested on whether this species is likely to qualify as threatened under the C criterion, if its population is estimated to number fewer than 10,000 mature individuals.

A. autumnalis (as defined following the taxonomic change) is widespread in Middle America and northern South America, occurring from central-eastern Mexico south to northern and western Colombia and north-western Venezuela. It is suggested that this species qualifies as Least Concern, on the basis that it is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN Red List criteria. Available information suggests that the population does not approach as few as 10,000 mature individuals, although it is recognised that it is likely to be in moderate decline owing to on-going trapping pressure and land-use change. However, any evidence that the species in fact approaches or meets any of the thresholds for Vulnerable would prompt re-examination of this suggested assessment.

Comments are invited and further information would be welcomed.


Berg, K. S. and Angel, R. R. (2006) Seasonal roosts of Red-lored Amazons in Ecuador provide information about population size and structure. Journal of Field Ornithology 77(2): 95–103.

Bird, J. P., Buchanan, G. M., Lees, A. C., Clay, R. P., Develey. P. F., Yépez, I. and Butchart, S. H. M. (2011) Integrating spatially explicit habitat projections into extinction risk assessments: a reassessment of Amazonian avifauna incorporating projected deforestation. Diversity and Distributions DOI: 10.1111/j.1472 4642.2011.00843.x.

IUCN (2001) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN Species Survival Commission.

Juniper, T. and Parr, M. (1998) Parrots: a guide to the parrots of the world. Robertsbridge, UK: Pica Press.

Ridgely, R. S. and Greenfield, P. J. (2001) The birds of Ecuador: status, distribution and taxonomy. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press and Christopher Helm.

Soares-Filho, B. S., Nepstad, D. C., Curran, L. M., Cerqueira, G. C., Garcia, R. A., Ramos, C. A., Voll, E., McDonald, A., Lefebvre, P. and Schlesinger, P. (2006) Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin. Nature 440: 520–523.

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: Red-lored Amazon (Amazona autumnalis) is being split: list A. lilacina and A. diadema as Endangered and A. autumnalis as Least Concern?

  1. Becca Biddle says:

    In response to: “Red-lored Amazon Amazona autumnalis is being split into A. autumnalis, A. lilacina and A. diadema, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).” Mark Pilgrim’s Ph.D Theseis (An investigation into the taxonomic status of Amazona autumnalis lilacina using a multidisciplinary approach, 2010) fully supports the separation of A.a.lilacina from the other three sub-species based on morphology (significant differences shown in foot and beak morphology, and facial plumage patterns) and direct sequence data for the mitochondrial genes CytB and ND2. Although the sample size was much smaller for A.a.diadema, as this was not the focus of the investigation, the limited data did not support the separation of A.a.diadema from the other sub species.

    In response to the estimation of population size of A.lilacina we agree the population estimate is fewer than 2500. The birds face threats of habitat loss and local pet trade, but the release of hybrids into the area we previously reported has been halted. Population estimates quoted are taken from mangrove flock counts which offer us a fairly robust method of estimating the total population in the area, as birds return to the same communal roost site each night, and leave together in the morning to feed in the dry forests.

    The estimate of 225 minimum can be slightly updated after a more recent trip to the Cerro Blanco forest near Guayaquil (Jan 2014) to re-estimate population size. Rather than 225, we now expect minimum of 304 individuals over 40% of the coast line. This increase is due to flock counts in the Puerto Hondo Mangrove area where the population here was recorded as 139 individuals. If we compare this 139 with Berg and Angel’s 214 from the same area, we see a reduction of 35% since 2006. However, if we account for the different season we carried out our counts in (by adding the suggested 17 pairs to our total, to account for any nesting pairs that don’t return to the communal roost at nesting time) we bring our estimate up to 175, this still shows a decrease of 18%. A reduction in the population size would not be surprising, as an estimated 90-98% of Ecuador’s forest has been cleared since the 1960s and 80% of the mangroves have been cleared for shrimp farming. Although the mangrove is now protected and used sustainably by local communities, the presence of the shrimp farms may impact the parrot’s roosting areas, for example the use of extremely loud bird scarers to protect the shrimp stock.

    The 40% of the coast line we covered holds three of the four locations that the red-lored amazon (not specifically A.lilacina) has been recorded from birders trip reports. The forth location is in the Esmeraldas Province, the most northerly province bordering Columbia, however recent photographs sent to us by colleagues in Ecuador shows the captive birds in the Esmeraldas to be A.a.salvini rather than A.lilacina. It is still unclear which species exists there, but these photographs and the difference in habitat (wet forest rather than the dry forest A.lilacina is a specialist of) may suggest that this forth population is A.a.salvini that also occurs in the south of Columbia. A field trip in 2014 will be carried out with the purpose of identifying these birds in the Esmeraldas region.

    As well as the small population size it should be noted that none of the sub populations recorded are over 250 individuals, in fact the largest recorded was 139 and arguably exists due to the protection of both the dry forest habitat and associated mangrove in the area, which appears to be a rare occurrence along the coast. The sub populations appear to be isolated from each other due to the lack of continued habitat – large gaps in the availability of mangrove and dry forest would make it very difficult for the populations to merge or allow gene flow.

  2. Andy Symes says:

    Preliminary proposals

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

    A. autumnalis as Least Concern

    A. lilacina as Endangered under criterion C2a(i)

    A. diadema as Endangered under criterion A4cd.

    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 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 in mid-2014, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by BirdLife and IUCN.

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