Archived 2016 topics: White-winged Brush-finch (Atlapetes leucopterus) is being split: request for information for A. paynteri.

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.

White-winged Brush-finch Atlapetes leucopterus is being split into A. leucopterus and A. paynteri, following the application of criteria set out by Tobias et al. (2010).

Prior to this taxonomic change, A. leucopterus was listed as Least Concern, on the basis that it did not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion. A. leucopterus (as now defined following the taxonomic change) is found in humid brushy areas and woodland between 600 and 2,900m on the western slope of the Andes in Ecuador and north-west Peru (Jaramillo 2016). There is no evidence for any population declines and has been described as relatively common (Jaramillo 2016). It is not thought to approach the threshold for Vulnerable under any criterion, and so this species likely warrants listing as Least Concern.

A. paynteri is found in southern Zamora-Chinchipe in southern Ecuador and northern Cajamarca (the Cordillera del Condor), north-west Peru. It prefers the undergrowth of humid forest between 600 and 2,900m and can be ‘rare to locally common’ (Jaramillo 2016). However, there have been no reported population declines (Jaramillo 2016), and habitat loss within the species’s range over the past 3 generations (c.11 years) has been low (see Global Forest Watch webpage: Therefore, the species likely warrants listing as Least Concern. Its restricted range does mean the species could potentially come under threat and species endemic to a similar area have been listed as Near Threatened under criterion B1ab(iii) e.g. Bar-winged Wood-wren, Henicorhina leucoptera (BirdLife International 2016). However, the population of A. paynteri is unlikely to be only found at a limited number of locations* (likely >>10 locations) and it is uncertain to what extent its range and population has become fragmented. Therefore, this particular species may not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under criterion B1ab(iii). We request any further information regarding this, particularly regarding to what extent the population may be fragmented; but in the absence of any additional comments this species is likely to be listed as Least Concern.

*Note that the term ‘location’ defines a geographically or ecologically distinct area in which a single threatening event can rapidly affect all individuals of the taxon present. The size of the location depends on the area covered by the threatening event and may include part of one or many subpopulations. Where a taxon is affected by more than one threatening event, location should be defined by considering the most serious plausible threat (IUCN 2001, 2012).


BirdLife International 2016. Species factsheet: Henicorhina leucoptera. Downloaded from on 07/10/2016.

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

IUCN. 2012. Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria at Regional and National Levels: Version 4.0. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN.

Jaramillo, A. 2016. White-winged Brush-finch (Atlapetes leucopterus). 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 7 October 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: White-winged Brush-finch (Atlapetes leucopterus) is being split: request for information for A. paynteri.

  1. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to list:

    A. leucopterus and A. paynteri as Least Concern.

    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 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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