Archived 2010-2011 topics: White-tailed Laurel Pigeon (Columba junoniae): downlist to Near Threatened or Least Concern?

Link to current BirdLife species factsheet for White-tailed Laurel Pigeon

White-tailed Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae is endemic to the Canary Islands (Spain), where it is found on La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and El Hierro (although breeding on the latter has not been confirmed). It is currently listed as Endangered under criterion B1 on the IUCN Red List, because when last assessed it was considered to have a small range (<2,500 km2), within which habitat extent and quality were thought to be declining.

Illegal hunting, poisoning, and predation by rats and cats remain important threats in some areas, with rat predation thought to have the most significant impact on this ground-nesting species (Martín et al. 2001). However, data collated in 2010 for a review of the EU Species Action Plan (BirdLife International 2010) show that its Area of Occupancy (and presumably its population) has increased in the last 20 years. It is now suspected to be relatively common in many places, especially on La Palma.

The distribution of C. junoniae was previously believed to be closely linked to that of laurel forests, but the species has since been found to have a wider habitat tolerance, including pine and thermophile forest. Thinning of pine plantations has made them more suitable for the species, and abandonment of agriculture in some areas has led to the regrowth of natural vegetation. There has also been a major effort on Tenerife to eradicate Monterey pine and replant areas with native species, which are more suitable.

If the overall extent and quality of habitat are no longer declining, the species’s global status ought to be revised to either Near Threatened (approaching the threshold for criterion B1a+b(iii) because of small range, few locations and until recently declining quality and extent of habitat) or Least Concern. Comments on this proposal and any data that could inform the outcome are welcome.

BirdLife International (2010) Species Action Plan Implementation Report: White-tailed Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae.

Martín, A., Hernández, M. A., Lorenzo, J. A., Nogales, M., & González, C. (2001) Las Palomas endémicas de Canarias. Conserjería de Medio Ambiente y SEO/BirdLife.

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1 Response to Archived 2010-2011 topics: White-tailed Laurel Pigeon (Columba junoniae): downlist to Near Threatened or Least Concern?

  1. Andy Symes says:

    Ana Iñigo (SEO) has commented:
    We don’t agree with the new proposal for the Canarias species, but, unfortunately we haven’t enough scientist references to argue your arguments. We have information, because we are working there, my colleagues in Tenerife knows the situation of the species, and over all the conservation problems that don’t stop, but not scientist evidences.

    Species, Columba bolli and junionae have increased its distribution area and abundance from the first species action plan until nowadays.

    Columba bolli has a better situation because logging and other forest practices and illegal hunting have stopped, but other conservation problems are still remaining, as predation or poison, and other new problems as virus infections. We think that it’s better to be cautious, and we consider that the species can be maintained as NT (B2ab(iii)c)

    Columba junionae has worst situation that C. bolli, we think that one explications of its increasing is that new areas or sites have been studied that were not previously confirmed, because we are evolving in ecology knowledge of the species. The pressure for predation is bigger than C. bolli because breeding in the ground (as example). We have to be more cautious. I would like to send you more details, and perhaps is necessary to review the information results in the workshop, but really we can not downlist this species. We propose to maintain as EN (B1ab (iii) + b2ab(iii)).

    BirdLife response:
    Columba species
    However, as pointed out in the topic above, revised information on the population trend for this species clearly indicates that it no longer qualifies as Endangered under the Red List categories and criteria. While the substantial body of data gathered for the SAP review indicates that, although some threats remain (as they do, of course, for almost every bird species), the status of this species has undergone a dramatic improvement in recent years. Given the apparent higher degree of remaining threat to C. junionae (nesting ecology etc), it seems appropriate to revise the status of this species to Near Threatened rather than Least Concern. Of course, such changes are not permanent, and were any of these species to suffer a downturn in fortunes in the future it may once again be appropriate to classify them in a higher category of threat.

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