Archived 2014 discussion: Sapphire Quail-dove (Geotrygon saphirina) is being split: list G. purpurata as Endangered and G. saphirina according to predicated rates of forest loss?

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.

Sapphire Quail-dove Geotrygon saphirina is being split into G. saphirina and G. purpurata, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, G. saphirina (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as Vulnerable under criterion A3c, on the basis that is was suspected that it would undergo a rapid population decline, of at least 30% over 14 years (estimate of three generations). This species was suspected to lose 19.9-20.5% of suitable habitat within its distribution over 14 years based on a model of deforestation in the Amazon basin (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). Given the susceptibility of the species to hunting and/or trapping, it was therefore suspected to decline by ≥30% over this period.

G. purpurata is found along the Pacific slope of western Colombia and north-western Ecuador, being largely restricted to lowland and foothill forest at 200-1,100 m and possibly lower (Hilty and Brown 1986, reviewed by Donegan and Salaman 2012). The species is considered rare to locally uncommon in humid and wet forest and advanced secondary growth, with few recent records in Colombia (Donegan and Salaman 2012), and perhaps only two reliable sites in Ecuador in recent years (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001).

This species’s population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 individuals, thought to be roughly equivalent to 600-1,700 mature individuals, based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and its estimated range size (Donegan and Salaman 2012). A rapid population decline is suspected owing to accelerating rates of habitat loss and presumed hunting pressure. Habitat destruction is taking place through the spread of coca production and gold prospecting, mining and the impacts of human settlement. Agricultural expansion, including oil-palm cultivation and cattle farming, as well as infrastructure development, is reported to be accelerating in western Ecuador and Colombia (Donegan and Salaman 2012). Several historical localities for G. purpurata have been deforested. According to Donegan and Salaman (2012), during recent decades the species has been recorded from three protected areas in Ecuador and one protected area in Colombia. It is likely to occur in other protected areas, but some of these are threatened by encroachment (Donegan and Salaman 2012).

This taxon has been assessed as Vulnerable at the national level in Ecuador under criteria A3c; C1 (<10,000 mature individuals and a future decline of 30-49% over three generations: Granizo et al. 2002). However, Donegan and Salaman (2012) suggest that the species could qualify as globally Endangered under criterion C2a(i), on the basis that its population is estimated to number fewer than 2,500 mature individuals, with no more than 50 mature individuals in each sub-population (although the threshold maximum for Endangered is 250 mature individuals in each sub-population), with on-going declines inferred as a result of continued habitat loss and suspected hunting pressure.

Further information and comments are requested on whether this species could qualify as Endangered. The assessment by Donegan and Salaman (2012) may be justified, although it is suggested here that the largest sub-population may number somewhere in the range of 51-250 mature individuals, 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).

G. saphirina (as defined following the taxonomic change) occurs in lowland and foothill forest in eastern Ecuador, south-eastern Colombia, eastern Peru and the extreme west of Amazonas state in Brazil.

An assessment of Least Concern is suggested for this species in a separate topic that covers the use of a model of forest loss in the Amazon basin (Soares-Filho et al. 2006) to predict population trends in species occurring within the coverage of the model (following Bird et al. 2011). Although this assessment is much more optimistic than that for the pre-split species, this form has since been mapped as occurring over a wider area of the Amazon basin and its range map now includes larger areas with low predicted deforestation rates. Comments on the Amazonia forest loss topic are invited regarding the species data used in the analysis and whether any of the species considered could qualify for a higher threat category based on their likely population size or other information.

Comments are invited on these proposed categories and further information would be welcomed.


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.

Donegan, T. and Salaman, P. (2012) Vocal differentiation and conservation of Indigo-crowned Quail-Dove Geotrygon purpurata. Conservación Colombiana 17: 15–19.

Granizo, T., Pacheco, C., Rivadeneira, M. B., Guerror, M. and Suárez, L. (Eds.) (2002) Libro rojo de las aves del Ecuador. Quito, Ecuador: SIMBIOE, Conservación Internacional, EcoCiencia, Ministerio del Ambiente and IUCN.

Hilty, S. L. and Brown, W. L. (1986) A guide to the birds of Colombia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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

Ridgely, R. S. and Greenfield, P. J. (2001) The birds of Ecuador: status, distribution and taxonomy. Ithaca, NY and London, UK: 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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2 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: Sapphire Quail-dove (Geotrygon saphirina) is being split: list G. purpurata as Endangered and G. saphirina according to predicated rates of forest loss?

  1. Andy Symes says:

    Preliminary proposals

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

    G. purpurata as Endangered under criterion C2a(i)

    G. saphirina as Least Concern.

    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

  2. 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.

Comments are closed.