Parrots much more threatened than previously reported
Text: Igor Berkunsky, Alejandro Balbiano & Juan F. Masello
Photographs: Darío Podestá, Igor Berkunsky and Wold Parrot Trust
Psittaciformes (parrots and cockatoos) are among the most endangered birds, with 31% of Neotropical species under threat of extinction. 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.
During the 25th International Ornithological Congress (August 2010) in Campos do Jordão, Brazil, the Working Group Psittaciformes (WGP) of the International Ornithologists’ Union (http://psittaciformes.internationalornithology.org
) was formed, comprising specialists in parrot research and conservation. The group includes >200 specialists from all over the world. One of the first objectives of this group was to update and increase our knowledge of the threats affecting parrots. A regional approach was adopted to evaluate threats facing Psittaciformes and a review of the conservation status of large Afrotropical parrots was completed first (Martin et al. 2014). From 2012 onwards, the specialists group concentrated its efforts on a study evaluating current threats faced by Neotropical parrots following a population-based approach. The Neotropical region is one of the eight biogeographic realms and includes the tropical terrestrial ecoregions of the Americas and the entire South American temperate zone.
Given the rapid development of anthropogenic threats, updated data on the threats affecting Neotropical parrots are urgently needed to strategize conservation actions. Using a population approach, the Working Group Psittaciformes addressed this need through a wide-ranging consultation involving 101 biologists and wildlife managers from 76 government agencies and non-governmental conservation organizations. We gathered up-to-date information on threats affecting 192 populations of 96 Neotropical parrot species (63% of Neotropical species) across 21 countries.
An extremely worrying result of the study shows that at least 38% of the studied populations are currently in decline. However, this figure may be an underestimate as many populations were affected by on average 10 different threats per population. The main threats to Neotropical parrot populations in the wild were related to human activities. Agriculture threatened 72% of populations, followed by the capture of parrots for the pet trade, which affected 68% of populations. Logging and Human Intrusions and Disturbance, each of them affected >55% of the studied populations. All these results, suggest a much higher degree of risk than previously thought.
The results of our study show that the capture of wild parrots for the local pet trade is currently the threat most closely associated with decreasing population trends, and capture for the international trade was also closely associated with declining populations. Capture for international trade has been one of the main threats to parrots for decades, with millions of individuals captured in the Neotropics and imported to the United States, Europe and Japan in the 1980s and 1990s. Intensive poaching led to the endangerment and local extinction of many parrots, and was likely the main cause of the Spix's Macaw’s extinction in the wild. Even now, heavy trade of the African Grey Parrot has played a major role in its virtual elimination from Ghana and other regions in Africa (Martin et al. 2014). Some progress has been made towards reducing international trade, as the passage of the U.S. Wild Bird Conservation Act (1992) and the permanent ban on wild-bird trade by the European Union (2007) have reduced the traffic in to these huge markets. However, ten years after the EU ban, South America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East continue to play major and increasing roles in the legal and illegal trade of wild parrots. Some progress has also been made as some countries have enacted new legislation to protect wild parrots including (e.g., Mexico, Nicaragua). However, thriving domestic parrot trade has been reported for Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru, with additional reports of continued poaching in several other countries.
The study suggests that the global conservation situation for parrots may be even worse than previously evaluated and that the need for conservation actions is urgent. It also suggests that priority should be given to conservation actions aimed at reducing the capture of wild parrots for the pet trade, mainly domestic use but also international trade, as well as the conservation of parrot populations located at agricultural frontiers.
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
Research Gatehttps://www.researchgate.net/publicatio ... opulations
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