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Distribution and conservation of Grallaria and Grallaricula antpittas (Grallariidae) in Ecuador

  • JUAN F. FREILE (a1), JUAN LUIS PARRA (a2) and CATHERINE H. GRAHAM (a3) (a4)

Summary

The current ranges of many tropical species of conservation concern are poorly known, yet this information is critical for assessing their conservation status against the IUCN Red List criteria and implementing species-level management. Antpittas in the genera Grallaria and Grallaricula are elusive, ground-foraging insectivores, highly susceptible to a range of threats. For these genera, we combine environmental niche modelling with expert knowledge in order to predict species’ geographic distributions, and we use current estimates of deforestation to evaluate their conservation status in Ecuador. We use BIOCLIM to generate a first pass geographic prediction, which was further aided by expert knowledge of their natural history. This methodology allowed us to assess the conservation status of each species, revising previous assessments at the national level and making recommendations for revision of global IUCN Red List categories. Based on inferred rates of population decline, derived from estimates of loss of suitable habitat, we suggest ranking three species as ‘Endangered’ in Ecuador, one as 'Vulnerable', and three as ‘Near Threatened’. Predicted national ranges vary in size from 56.05 km2 to 112,745 km2. Patterns of range loss were different for each Andean slope, with higher deforestation on the western slope. The combination of niche modelling and knowledge of habitat loss can be a powerful tool to aid conservation efforts in the face of a poor understanding of population demographics, as is the case for many Neotropical taxa. We hope the methodology and results provided here will increase our understanding, and focus future attention on the conservation of this poorly known avian group.

Existe poco conocimiento sobre los rangos actuales de distribución de muchas especies tropicales amenazadas de extinción, aunque esta información es fundamental para evaluar sus estados de conservación mediante los criterios de Listas Rojas de UICN, y para implementar estrategias de manejo. Los tororois de los géneros Grallaria y Grallaricula son aves insectívoras terrestres, de hábitos elusivos, altamente vulnerables a la extinción. Evaluamos el estado de conservación en Ecuador de las especies de Grallaria y Grallaricula empleando modelación de nichos, experticia local y tasas actuales de deforestación, para predecir la distribución geográfica de las especies. Usamos BIOCLIM para generar una primera ronda de predicciones geográficas, la cual fue posteriormente refinada por expertos en la historia natural y distribución de estas especies. Estos métodos nos permitieron estimar de forma más certera el estado de conservación de cada especie y revisar las evaluaciones previas a escala nacional, así como asignar las categorías de conservación de UICN de manera más acertada. Con base en las estimaciones de pérdida de rango, sugerimos categorizar a tres especies como En Peligro, una como Vulnerable y tres especies como Casi Amenazadas en Ecuador. Los rangos de distribución nacionales estimados varían en extensión desde 56,05 km2 a 112 745 km2. Los patrones de pérdida de rangos fueron distintos entre las dos estribaciones andinas, con mayores tasas de deforestación al occidente. La combinación de modelación de nichos y conocimiento sobre pérdida de hábitats puede constituir una herramienta eficiente para apoyar los esfuerzos de conservación frente a panoramas de escaso conocimiento de dinámicas poblacionales, como es el caso para la mayoría de aves neotropicales. Esperamos que la metodología y resultados que proveemos aporten a incrementar nuestro conocimiento y a enfocar futuros esfuerzos de conservación hacia este grupo de aves poco conocidas.

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*Author for correspondence; email: jfreileo@yahoo.com

References

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Distribution and conservation of Grallaria and Grallaricula antpittas (Grallariidae) in Ecuador

  • JUAN F. FREILE (a1), JUAN LUIS PARRA (a2) and CATHERINE H. GRAHAM (a3) (a4)

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