|Scientific Name:||Merulaxis stresemanni|
|Species Authority:||Sick, 1960|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Critically Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,v);C2a(i,ii);D ver 3.1|
|Reviewer/s:||Butchart, S. & Symes, A.|
|Contributor/s:||Develey, P., Olmos, F. & Ribon, R.|
This species remained unrecorded for 50 years until it was rediscovered in 1995 near Una, Bahia, but there have been no more records from this locality despite subsequent searches (Collar et al. 1992). However, it has now also been found in Bandeira county, in the border of the Pardo and Jequitinhonha valleys, Minas Gerais and Bahia, where its extremely small range and population, at a single location, is declining owing to fires, logging and the clearance of steep humid valley-floor forest for cattle-ranching and agriculture. For these reasons it is classified as Critically Endangered.
|Range Description:||Merulaxis stresemanni was known until recently from just two specimens, the type, collected near Salvador in the 1830s, and a second taken near Ilhéus in 1945, in coastal Bahia, Brazil. In 1995, it was rediscovered in the wild when a male was observed and tape-recorded at Fazenda Jueirana, near Una Biological Reserve, Bahia (Baudet 2001). Subsequent searches there have failed to produce further records (Baudet 2001, F. Olmos in litt. 2003). However, the species was subsequently found in the Jequitinhonha valley, Minas Gerais, near the border with Bahia (Ribon et al. 2004). Here, too, the future of the species seems to hang in the balance: it lives in a strip of humid valley-floor forest, much of which has recently been cleared to make room for agriculture (F. Olmos in litt. 2006) and pasture (R. Ribon in litt 2007).|
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
|Population:||In the Jequitinhonha valley (the sole currently known population), at least four birds were found in a 100 ha area, but it was thought unlikely that this density could be extrapolated for the whole 5,000 ha partly fragmented patch of forest (R. Ribon in litt. 2006). The latest surveys of the Macarani / Bandeira area near Balbina (Sossego do Arrebol Forest) found just six individuals: five females and a single male (Fundação Biodiversitas in litt. 2010), with likely no more than 10-15 birds in total and none found in other forest fragments surveyed (R. Ribon in litt. 2011). It is therefore now suspected that there may be fewer than 50 birds remaining, and the population is placed in the band 1-49 mature individuals.|
|Habitat and Ecology:||Very little is known, but its behaviour and habitat preferences appear similar to those of M. ater (Baudet 2001). The male in 1995 was observed foraging on the ground and on fallen tree trunks in an area of drier forest between two humid valleys (Baudet 2001). It was found in humid forest at 700-800 metres along the Jequitinonha and Pardo River valleys (R. Ribon in litt 2007). The species has subsequently been observed apparently feeding on insects on dry litter and under fallen logs (Fundação Biodiversitas in litt. 2010). Birds are very responsive to play-back, approaching the observer to 2 m (R. Ribon in litt 2007). The average territory size of three birds was 2.36 ha, based on initial studies, but more data are required (Fundação Biodiversitas in litt. 2010).|
|Major Threat(s):||Most humid forest in Bahia has been cleared or converted to cacao plantations, and remaining patches are disappearing very rapidly. Forest in the Minas Gerais and Bahia border area is being cleared for small (mostly in Jordânia county, Minas Gerais) and large scale cattle ranching (R. Ribon in litt 2007). Forest is also degraded by loggers from Bahia state (R. Ribon in litt 2007). Intentional or accidental fires are set every year, degrading the border of the remaining pristine forest (R. Ribon in litt 2007).|
Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected by Brazilian law. The sighting in 1995 was in a privately-owned fazenda adjacent to the 5,400 ha Una Biological Reserve. A reforestation project aiming to create a biological corridor between Una and Serra das Lontras is planned (F. Olmos in litt. 2003). Ten percent of the forest tract where the species was discovered in Macarani County in 2005 (the 400 ha Mata da Balbina in Jequitinhonha valley, Bandeira and Macarani municipalities) was purchased by the Fundação Biodiversitas, a local NGO from Minas Gerais, with funds from the American Bird Conservancy, and is managed as Reserva do Passarinho, a Private Natural Heritage Reserve (P. Develey in litt. 2007, Anon 2008, Whitehouse and Ribon 2010). Within an initial three-year period targets are to create an initial infrastructure, investigate the conservation status of M. stresemanni, and enhance the institutional presence in the area (Anon 2008). A further 194 ha section of forest was purchased in March 2009, along with infrastructure improvement and the hiring of a reserve manager (American Bird Conservancy 2009, SAVE Brasil in litt. 2010). All the remaining forest (c.4,300 ha) is virtually unprotected and needs urgent protection (R. Ribon in litt 2007). Surveys are being carried out to assess the population size of the species (Fundação Biodiversitas in litt. 2010, SAVE Brasil in litt. 2010).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys including playback in the Jequitinhonha valley to determine the size and status of this population. Search for additional populations in all fragments of lowland forests in and around Bahia, using the voice cut now available, and determine the size and status of the remaining population. Safeguard the remaining unprotected 4,300 hectares of forest in the Jequitinhonha valley, and all remaining tracts of humid forest in Bahia. Create corridors to connect small tracts of pristine forest currently disconnected from the largest tract on the Bandeira-Jordânia-Macarani border. Regulate use of playback on tiny known population, whilst maintaining potential for ecotourism.
|Citation:||BirdLife International 2012. Merulaxis stresemanni. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 May 2013.|
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