Gland, Switzerland, 7 June, 2012 (IUCN) – The risk of extinction has increased substantially for nearly 100 species of Amazonian birds, reveals the 2012 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ update for birds released today by BirdLife International. The new assessment is based on models projecting the extent and pattern of deforestation across the Amazon.
Of particular concern are species with longer life spans, such as Rio Branco Antbird (Cercomacra carbonaria), for which even moderate rates of deforestation can be important. Some species, such as Hoary-throated Spinetail (Synallaxis kollari), appear likely to lose more than 80% of their habitat over the coming decades and have been placed in the highest category of extinction risk – Critically Endangered.
“BirdLife are providing essential information to guide policy and conservation action for birds,” says Jane Smart, Global Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group. “It is clear that conservation works, but more action is needed if we are to protect these magnificent species which play an integral role in maintaining healthy ecosystems on which both birds and humans depend.”
The 2012 update is a comprehensive review of the world’s 10,000-plus bird species, undertaken once every four years. The update shows worrying declines not just from the tropics, but also in Northern Europe. Over one million Long-tailed Ducks (Clangula hyemalis) have disappeared from the Baltic Sea over the last 20 years, resulting in the species being uplisted to Vulnerable. The reasons for this decline are still not clear, but the outlook for another sea duck, Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca) is even worse, as the species is now listed as Endangered.
In Africa, the White-backed and Rueppell’s Vultures, (Gyps africanus and G. rueppellii), are mirroring the fate of their Asian cousins, with rapid declines linked to poisoning and habitat loss. Both species have been reclassified as Endangered. Their declines have a wide impact, since vultures play a key role in the food chain by feeding on dead animals.
“We have previously underestimated the risk of extinction that many of Amazonia’s bird species are facing,” says Dr. Leon Bennun, BirdLife’s Director of Science, Policy and Information. “However, given recent weakening of Brazilian forest law, the situation may be even worse than recent studies have predicted.”
However, not all the news is bad. Restinga Antwren (Formicivora littoralis), a small bird from coastal, south-east Brazil, has been downlisted from Critically Endangered, as new surveys have found it to be more widely distributed than previously thought. Its future also looks more secure due to the creation of a new protected area covering its core distribution.
There are also examples of a species’ fate being turned around despite insurmountable odds. In the Cook Islands of the Pacific, the sustained recovery of Raratonga Monarch (Pomarea dimidiate), once one of the world’s rarest birds, has led to it being downlisted to Vulnerable. Intensive conservation action, particularly through control of alien invasive predators like black rats, has saved the species from extinction. The bird’s population is now about 380 individuals—over ten times larger than at its low point, although continued conservation efforts are still required.
“Such successes show the remarkable achievements that are possible where effort and dedication by conservationists and local communities are backed up with political support and adequate resources,” says Dr. Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Global Research Coordinator. “But the worrying projections for the Amazon emphasize the urgent need for governments to meet their international commitments by establishing comprehensive protected area networks that are adequately funded and effectively managed.”
Issues involving species survival and conservation will be discussed at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Republic of Korea, from 6 to 15 September 2012.
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Total number of species recognised by BirdLife in the 2012 Red List update is 10,064. Number of species by category as follows: Extinct 130; Extinct in Wild 4; Critically Endangered 197; Endangered 389; Vulnerable 727; Near Threatened 880; Least Concern 7,677; Data Deficient 60.
The 2012 Red List represents one of BirdLife’s 4-yearly comprehensive updates to the information on the world’s birds. All ten thousand species have been reassessed, with their species factsheets, text accounts, data fields and Red List assessments updated using new published and unpublished information, as well as input from hundreds of reviewers (including many BirdLife Partners) to help ensure the information is up to date and as accurate as possible. Almost 300 species have had proposals to revise their status discussed on BirdLife’s web-based threatened bird discussion forums, and a number of taxonomic updates have been implemented. A total of 208 species have had their status revised, including 120 for genuine reasons.
To find out more about threatened birds visit http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/spotthreatbirds
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About The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (or the IUCN Red List) is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant and animal species. It is based on an objective system for assessing the risk of extinction of a species should no conservation action be taken. Species are assigned to one of eight categories of threat based on whether they meet criteria linked to population trend, population size and structure and geographic range. Species listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable are collectively described as ‘Threatened’. The IUCN Red List is not just a register of names and associated threat categories. It is a rich compendium of information on the threats to the species, their ecological requirements, where they live, and
information on conservation actions that can be used to reduce or prevent extinctions.
The IUCN Red List is a joint effort between IUCN and its Species Survival Commission, working with its Red List partners BirdLife International; Botanic Gardens Conservation International; Conservation International; NatureServe; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Sapienza University of Rome; Texas A&M University; Wildscreen; and Zoological Society of London. www.iucnredlist.org www.facebook.com/iucn.red.list @amazingspecies
About the Species Survival Commission
The Species Survival Commission (SSC) is the largest of IUCN’s six volunteer commissions with a global membership of around 7500 experts. SSC advises IUCN and its members on the wide range of technical and scientific aspects of species conservation, and is dedicated to securing a future for biodiversity. SSC has significant input into the international agreements dealing with biodiversity conservation.
Regional highlights: Africa: Grey Parrot has been split into two species: Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus and Timneh Grey Parrot P. timneh, both now listed as Vulnerable. Brown-cheeked Bycanistes cylindricus and Yellow-casqued Hornbill Ceratogymna elata have both been uplisted to Vulnerable.
Americas: as well as the 95 Amazonian species being uplisted, Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi has been uplisted to Critically Endangered. The newly described Palkachupa Cotinga Phibalura boliviana has been assessed for the first time as Endangered.
Asia: Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri and Edward’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi have both been uplisted to Critically Endangered. Several riverine species such as River Tern Sterna aurantia and River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii have been uplisted reflecting the threat to their habitat (both now Near Threatened).
Much of the conservation work for Restinga Antwren has been carried out by BirdLife Species Guardian, Pingo d’Agua. The new state park was created after advocacy by BirdLife Partner, SAVE Brasil and others. See http://www.birdlife.org/community/2011/04/threatened-antwren-to-benefit-from-creation-of-new-state-park-in-rio/