Archived 2014 discussion: Tuamotu Sandpiper (Prosobonia cancellata) is being split: list P. cancellata as Extinct and P. parvirostris as Endangered?

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.

Tuamotu Sandpiper Prosobonia cancellata is being split into P. cancellata (Kiritimati Sandpiper) and P. parvirostris (Tuamotu Sandpiper), following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to the taxonomic change, P. cancellata (BirdLife species factsheet) was listed as Endangered under criterion B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v) as it has a very small range within which it is restricted to very few locations, and is likely to be undergoing continuing declines owing to the effects of invasive predators.

The type specimen of Prosobonia cancellata was collected on Kiritimati/Christmas Island (Kiribati), where it was driven extinct, probably during the 18th century, by introduced rats and cats (Walters 1993). It is therefore proposed that the newly-defined Kiritimati Sandpiper P. cancellata be listed as Extinct.

P. parvirostris as defined following this taxonomic change is endemic to the Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia, where it declined during the 20th and possibly also the 19th centuries and only five islands are now thought to support populations: Tenararo (a minimum of 500 in 2001), Morane (a minimum of 530 in 2003), Reitoru (estimated at 57 in 2003), Tahanea (estimated at 185 in 2003, 59 in 2007, c. 150 in 2009, 168 at the beginning of 2011 and 74 at the end of that year, following a massive die-out (through starvation) of the population in the month following an entry of saltwater into the water tables of the islets caused by a strong swell [M. H. Burle in litt. 2012]), and a very small population (no estimate available) on Raraka, near Tahanea. Declines are suspected to be taking place at a slow to moderate rate owing to the impacts of invasive predators and perhaps also the spread of coconut plantations where these lead to the removal of native vegetation. It is proposed that the newly-defined Tuamotu Sandpiper P. parvirostris be listed as Endangered under criterion B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v).

Comments are invited and further information would be welcomed.


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.

Walters, M. 1993. On the status of the Christmas Island sandpiper Aechmorhynchus cancellatus. Bull. Br. Ornithol. Club 113: 97-102

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2 Responses to Archived 2014 discussion: Tuamotu Sandpiper (Prosobonia cancellata) is being split: list P. cancellata as Extinct and P. parvirostris as Endangered?

  1. Andy Symes says:

    Preliminary proposals

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

    P. parvirostris as Endanged under criterion B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)

    P. cancellata as Extinct.

    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.