Archived 2016 topics: The newly described taxon Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus is to be recognised as a species by BirdLife: request for information

This is part of a consultation on the Red List implications of extensive changes to BirdLife’s taxonomy for passerines

Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International will soon publish the second volume of 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 2 of the checklist (for passerines) will begin to be incorporated into the 2016 Red List update, with the remainder 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.

The newly described taxon Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus is to be recognised as a species by BirdLife following application of the Tobias et al. (2010) criteria, which support its distinctiveness from congeners.

S. pyrrholaemus, Olive-backed Forest-robin, is known from specimens and observations from Gabon in the Rabi Oil field, along the road to Toucan north of Rabi, the Moukalaba-Doudou National Park and a specimen from 1953 in Tchibanga (Schmidt et al. 2008), with additional possible reports from Lopé National Park and the Makokou area (Bouano et al. 2014, Fjeldså 2016). It has been described as locally common in primary lowland forest (Schmidt et al. 2008), and appears to avoid secondary or more disturbed habitat where elephants or large ungulates may be common (Schmidt et al. 2008). Therefore, any degradation or destruction of its habitat may be causing population fragmentation and declines.

The population size has not been quantified, but the fact it is considered common in the areas where it is known from and its potential to be present in a larger amount of Gabon than previously thought may mean it does not reach the threshold for Vulnerable (<10,000 individuals with a decline of 10% over 3 generations or a given population structure). However, we request any further information, particularly regarding population size estimates; and, pending further information on range and population size, would provisionally recommend listing as Near Threatened under criteria B1ab(iii,v);C2a(ii).

Comments are invited and any further information would be greatly welcomed.


Boano, G., Vinals, N., Durante, A. and Pavia, M. 2015. Apparent sympatry of Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus Schmidt & Angehr, 2008 and S. xanthogaster Sharpe, 1903 (Passeriformes: Muscicapidae) in Gabon, and taxonomic implications. Zootaxa 4032(1): 127-133.

Fjeldså, J. 2016. Olive-backed Forest-robin (Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 September 2016).

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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1 Response to Archived 2016 topics: The newly described taxon Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus is to be recognised as a species by BirdLife: request for information

  1. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2016 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 28 October, 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 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.

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