Press release No 172 • Justus Liebig University Giessenhttp://www.uni-giessen.de/ueber-uns/pressestelle/pm/pm172a-17
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
More than one hundred experts all around the world demand for conservation actions
September 15th, 2017
Parrots are among the most endangered species. Already since the 1990s it is a fact that one third of the parrot species from Central and South America is critically endangered. Led by the biologist Dr. Juan F. Masello of the Justus Liebig University Gießen (JLU), a team of more than one hundred international experts in parrot research and species conservation has come to even more alarming results. “What we discovered is very worrying”, comments Dr. Masello. “Actual species conservation measures are based on completely outdated data and are by no means sufficient.” The study has now been published in the journal “Biological Conservation” and examined the condition of 192 parrot populations in Latin America.
Many of the studied populations are on average exposed to ten different threats, most of them initiated by humankind. Agriculture, for example, affects 72 percent of populations, closely followed by the capture of parrots for the pet trade, which threatens 68 percent of populations. Natural vegetation clearing and other disturbances through human intrusions thus affect more than 55 percent of the examined populations – a result that implies a considerably higher risk than initially thought. In total, 63 percent of Latin American species were studied.
The results of the study show that the capture of wild parrots for the local pet trade correlates strongly with the decreasing population trends. Similar observations can be made with regard to the capture of wild parrots for international trade. The capture for international trade has been a major threat for parrots for decades, already in the 80s and 90s millions of them have been captured in Latin America and imported to the U.S., to Europe as well as to Japan. Intensive poaching led to the extinction of many parrots and is probably the main reason why there are no more free-living Spix Macaws.
Initiatives as the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act (1992) or the ban on imports of the European Union (2007) limited the trade in these huge markets, although South America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East still play a major role for the legal and illegal trade of wild parrots. According to the study, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico and Peru have a flourishing parrot trade, for other countries even continued poaching is reported.
The findings suggest that effective measures need to be implemented urgently and should primarily aim at a prevention of the capture of wild parrots for the pet trade and the protection of parrot populations located near agricultural areas.
Berkunsky, I., Quillfeldt, P., Brightsmith, D.J., Abbud, M.C., Aguilar, J.M.R.E., Alemán-Zelaya, U., Aramburú, R.M., Arce Arias, A., Balas McNab, R., Balsby, T.J.S., Barredo Barberena, J.M., Beissinger, S.R., Rosales, M., Berg, K.S., Bianchi, C.A., Blanco, E., Bodrati, A., Bonilla-Ruz, C., Botero-Delgadillo, E., Canavelli, S.B., Caparroz, R., Cepeda, R.E., Chassot, O., Cinta-Magallón, C., Cockle, K.L., Daniele, G., de Araujo, C.B., de Barbosa, A.E., de Moura, L.N., Del Castillo, H., Díaz, S., Díaz-Luque, J.A., Douglas, L., Figueroa Rodríguez, A., García-Anleu, R.A., Gilardi, J.D., Grilli, P.G., Guix, J.C., Hernández, M., Hernández-Muñoz, A., Hiraldo, F., Horstman, E., Ibarra Portillo, R., Isacch, J.P., Jiménez, J.E., Joyner, L., Juarez, M., Kacoliris, F.P., Kanaan, V.T., Klemann-Júnior, L., Latta, S.C., Lee, A.T.K., Lesterhuis, A., Lezama-López, M., Lugarini, C., Marateo, G., Marinelli, C.B., Martínez, J., McReynolds, M.S., Mejia Urbina, C.R., Monge-Arias, G., Monterrubio-Rico, T.C., Nunes, A.P., Nunes, F., Olaciregui, C., Ortega-Arguelles, J., Pacifico, E., Pagano, L., Politi, N., Ponce-Santizo, G., Portillo Reyes, H.O., Prestes, N.P., Presti, F., Renton, K., Reyes-Macedo, G., Ringler, E., Rivera, L., Rodríguez-Ferraro, A., Rojas-Valverde, A.M., Rojas-Llanos, R.E., Rubio-Rocha, Y.G., Saidenberg, A.B.S., Salinas-Melgoza, A., Sanz, V., Schaefer, H.M., Scherer-Neto, P., Seixas, G.H.F., Serafini, P., Silveira, L.F., Sipinski, E.A.B., Somenzari, M., Susanibar, D., Tella, J.L., Torres-Sovero, C., Trofino-Falasco, C., Vargas-Rodríguez, R., Vázquez-Reyes, L.D., White Jr, T.H., Williams, S., Zarza, R. & Masello, J.F. (2017) Current threats faced by Neotropical parrot populations
. Biological Conservation
, 214, 278-287.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2017.08.016
Psittaciformes (parrots, cockatoos) are among the most endangered birds, with 31% of Neotropical species under threat. The drivers of this situation appear to be manifold and mainly of anthropogenic origin. However, this assessment is based on the last extensive consultation about the conservation situation of parrots carried out in the 1990s. Given the rapid development of anthropogenic threats, updated data are needed to strategize conservation actions. Using a population approach, we addressed this need through a wide-ranging consultation involving biologists, wildlife managers, government agencies and non-governmental conservation organizations. We gathered up-to-date information on threats affecting 192 populations of 96 Neotropical parrot species across 21 countries. Moreover, we investigated associations among current threats and population trends. Many populations were affected by multiple threats. Agriculture, Capture for the Pet Trade, Logging, each of them affected > 55% of the populations, suggesting a higher degree of risk than previously thought. In contrast to previous studies at the species level, our study showed that the threat most closely associated with decreasing population trends is now Capture for the local Pet Trade. Other threats associated with decreasing populations include Small-holder Farming, Rural Population Pressure, Nest Destruction by Poachers, Agro-industry Grazing, Small-holder Grazing, and Capture for the international Pet Trade. Conservation actions have been implemented on < 20% of populations. Our results highlight the importance of a population-level approach in revealing the extent of threats to wild populations. It is critical to increase the scope of conservation actions to reduce the capture of wild parrots for pets.
Dr. Juan F. Masello
Department of Animal Ecology & Systematics
Justus Liebig University Giessen
Phone: +49 641 99-35775
Press office Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, tel.: +49-641 99-12041