Ramphomicron dorsale


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Ramphomicron dorsale
Species Authority: Salvin & Godman, 1880
Common Name(s):
English Black-backed Thornbill

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Cortés, O., Krabbe, N. & Olaciregui , C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Sharpe, C J, Taylor, J.
This species is considered Endangered because it occupies a very small range, within which it has become apparent that suitable habitat is severely fragmented owing to deforestation, extensive burning and over-grazing. The impoverished state of previously suitable habitat in some areas necessitates urgent work to study this species and its threats.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Ramphomicron dorsale is endemic to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in north-eastern Colombia (del Hoyo 1999). It is known from three sites, two of which are the source of historical records only (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). The population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be in decline owing to the continued loss of and damage to the species's habitats.

Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species's population size has not been estimated, but it was described as 'uncommon' by Stotz et al. (1996).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species occurs on the edges of humid montane forest, elfin forest and páramo, from 2,000 m to the snow-line at 4,600 m (del Hoyo 1999). It is thought to breed in the timberline-páramo ecotone (Fundación ProAves 2011). It appears to forage in all strata, feeding on the nectar of Ericaceae, Erythrina species, Lobeliaceae, Melastomataceae, Puya species, Rubiaceae and Salvia species, and taking insects in the air or gleaning them from leaves. It moves to lower elevations in May-June (del Hoyo 1999).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Forest clearance for agriculture is severe and has reached this species's elevation range (O. Cortes in litt. 2011), whilst trees in some areas are unsustainably cut for firewood (N. Krabbe in litt. 2010). The state of páramo and the timberline-páramo ecotone in parts of the species's range is described as "disastrous" (Fundación ProAves 2011). Extensive and regular burning (N. Krabbe in litt. 2010, Fundación ProAves in litt. 2011) and heavy livestock grazing are causing severe damage to the timberline zone (Fundación ProAves 2011). The species is also potentially affected by climate change (Fundación ProAves 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
It is recorded annually in the c.770-ha El Dorado Bird Reserve, but many of these are probably wandering immatures (Fundación ProAves 2011). Since 2006, the foundation has been carrying out a programme to eradicate exotic pines and replace them with native trees, with the support of the local environment authority (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). The species may be afforded some protection by the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park (del Hoyo 1999).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct research into the species's ecology and life history.  Estimate area of occupancy (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). Confirm presence at sites where the species was historically recorded (C. Olaciregui in litt. 2012). Carry out surveys to obtain a population estimate. Monitor trends in the population. Monitor the extent and condition of habitat. Raise awareness of the species's plight amongst local people. Increase the area of suitable habitat that receives adequate protection. Encourage sustainable livestock and land management practices.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Ramphomicron dorsale. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 01 September 2015.
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