Archived 2014 discussion: The newly described taxon Strix omanensis is to be recognised as a species by BirdLife: list as Data Deficient?

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.

The newly described taxon Strix omanensis (Robb et al. 2013) is to be recognised as a species following application of the Tobias et al. (2010) criteria, which support its distinctiveness from congeners.

Strix omanensis was recently described from northern Oman, where it was found in the northern foothills of Al Jabal Al Akhdar, in the central part of the Al Hajar mountains (Robb et al. 2013). This was followed by the subsequent publication of a putative record c.33 km from the type locality in 2008 (van Eijk 2013).

In the vicinity of the type locality, six or seven individuals have been found, including at least two pairs, along a c.3-km stretch of wadi (Robb et al. 2013). Given that similar habitat exists in other unsurveyed wadis near the type locality, it is thought likely that the species will be found elsewhere in the Al Hajar mountains. However, its apparent requirement for cliffs may limit its range to this massif. The nearest neighbouring mountain range is the Dhofar range of southern Oman, separated from the Al Hajar range by c.700 km of lowlying and largely barren desert. The species’s ecology may render it very rare, but for now the population size remains a matter of speculation (Robb et al. 2013).

Despite the available information and possible conjecture, it may be too early to estimate the size of the species’s range and population. More study is also required into potential threats before its population trend can be reliably inferred. It is suggested that the species be listed as Data Deficient, on the basis that there is insufficient information available for a robust assessment of its extinction risk against the IUCN Red List criteria.

Comments are invited on this suggested category and further information would be welcomed.


Robb, M. S., van den Berg, A. B. and Constantine, M. (2013) A new species of Strix owl from Oman. Dutch Birding 35: 275–310.

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.

van Eijk, P. (2013) Presumed second locality for Omani Owl. Dutch Birding 35: 387–388.

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3 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: The newly described taxon Strix omanensis is to be recognised as a species by BirdLife: list as Data Deficient?

  1. Richard Porter says:

    I agree that Data Deficient is the only responsible tag for this taxon at the moment. Ornithologists and conservationists will watch developments with great interest.

  2. Joe Taylor says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information and comments posted above, our preliminary proposal for the 2014 Red List would be to treat S. omanensis as Data Deficient.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 31 March, 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 categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there has been no change to our preliminary proposals for the 2014 Red List status of this species.

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

Comments are closed.