Geotrygon caniceps


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Geotrygon caniceps
Species Authority: (Gundlach, 1852)
Common Name/s:
English Grey-headed Quail-dove, Grey-fronted Quail-Dove, Grey-headed Quail-Dove
Columba caniceps Gundlach, 1852
Taxonomic Notes: Geotrygon caniceps (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) was split into G. caniceps and G. leucometopia by Garrido et al. (2002) and this treatment followed by AOU (2004) but is not followed by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group. The separation of G. leucometopia from G. caniceps hinges on differences in head coloration, tail length, breast iridescence and position of the wing-notch. Having examined what admittedly few skins there are in the Natural History Museum, Tring, the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group finds that while the differences in head colour and tail length are reasonably marked, that for iridescence is minor while the position of the wing notch is significant but puzzlingly inconsistent. Overall, it is felt that in the absence of other, particularly vocal, evidence, it would be premature to accept this split.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2bcde+3bcde+4bcde ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor/s: BirdLife International
Reviewer/s: Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor/s: Latta, S., Mitchell, A. & Kirkconnell, A.
Facilitator/s: Benstead, P., Capper, D., Mahood, S., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.
This species is considered Vulnerable because it has a small population which has suffered a rapid and continuing decline, owing to habitat loss and hunting.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Geotrygon caniceps has a limited distribution and is rare throughout Cuba (subspecies caniceps), being most common on the Zapata Peninsula and Sierra del Rosario. It also occurs on the Cordillera Central, Sierra de Baoruco and Sierra de Neiba in the Dominican Republic (subspecies leucometopius) (Baptista et al. 1997, S. Latta in litt. 1998, Raffaele et al. 1998). There are local reports from the 1920s of a rare, grey quail-dove near the summit of Morne La Selle in Haiti, but intensive habitat destruction has probably extirpated any hypothetical populations (Baptista et al. 1997). It remains locally fairly common on the Sierra de Baoruco (Baptista et al. 1997), but is still only known from eleven localities there and in the Cordillera Central; it is thought to have been extirpated from the Sierra de Neiba (S. Latta in litt. 1998, Garrido et al. 2002, Latta et al. 2006).

Cuba; Dominican Republic
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In Cuba, it favours drier, limestone-based forest but also inhabits humid lowland forests bordering swamps, and (at least in the Sierra del Rosario) mid-elevation montane forest (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999, Garrido et al. 2002). In the Dominican Republic, it occurs in dense, montane moist forests and coffee plantations up to 1,800 m, and is known from two localities at sea-level (Baptista et al. 1997, Raffaele et al. 1998). It feeds on seeds and small invertebrates, foraging on the ground and frequently along tracks, but may perch 10 m above the ground (Baptista et al. 1997).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat destruction has reduced this species to near-extinction on the Cordillera Central and Sierra de Neiba (Baptista et al. 1997). The expansion of cacao, coffee and tobacco production seriously threatens suitable habitat in Cuba, and dry-season burning, drainage, agricultural expansion and introduced predators are severe problems in the Zapata Swamp (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Wells and Mitchell 1995). It is heavily hunted for food in Cuba, using drop-traps baited with orange seeds (Wells and Mitchell 1995).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Hunting of the species in the Dominican Republic was prohibited in 1978. Montane forest is poorly represented in the Dominican Republic's protected-areas system, but the wildlife service has recently proposed 15 new areas, including six in montane forest (Schubert 1993, Stattersfield et al. 1998). It occurs within a numbers of reserves in Cuba (including the Corral de Santo Tomás Faunal Refuge in the Zapata Swamp area, La Güira National Park and the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve), but few are afforded strict protection (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998, Stattersfield et al. 1998).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to clarify the species's current status and determine the protected areas within which it occurs. Control dry season burning and draining. Enforce laws concerning hunting of the species. Formally designate the proposed reserves in the Dominican Republic. Devise and implement management plans for protected areas. Enforce protection of protected areas.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Geotrygon caniceps. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 21 April 2014.
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