Phapitreron cinereiceps


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Phapitreron cinereiceps
Species Authority: (Bourns & Worcester, 1894)
Common Name(s):
English Tawitawi Brown-dove, Dark-eared Brown Dove
Taxonomic Notes: Phapitreron cinereiceps (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into P. cinereiceps and P. brunneiceps following Collar et al. (1999). Because this split was made in a BirdLife publication, the justification is repeated here in full (but the references are not supplied). The form cinereiceps does not differ from P. brunneiceps in its "redder hindneck" (contra del Hoyo et al. 1997) but possesses a matt grey crown, more olive back, rusty not vinous-grey belly, brown not buff vent, and grey not buff undertail-coverts (as judged from CMNH 91B2583), and on this basis merits specific recognition from P. brunneiceps, with which it has in recent years (despite Manuel 1936a) been united under the name "Dark-eared Brown-dove" (the detailed original descriptions of both forms are adjacent in Bourns and Worcester 1894). It is arguably more distinct from brunneiceps than brunneiceps is from Amethyst Brown-dove P. amethystina, the latter only being recognised as representatives of separate species when their sympatry on Mt McKinley, Mindanao, was noted (Dickinson et al. 1991). Rand (1970b) stated that on Mindanao cinereiceps (i.e. brunneiceps) and amethystina both occur from 900 to 1,350 m, but that only the latter was found at altitudes above this; there may thus be a partial difference in altitudinal preference.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2cd+3cd+4cd;B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v);C2a(i,ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Allen, D., Hutchinson, R. & Tabaranza, B.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Lowen, J., Taylor, J.
This species probably has a very small population and has presumably undergone a very rapid population reduction based on a decline in the extent of its forest habitat, which is now restricted to a few remaining small fragments within a very small range. It is therefore classified as Endangered.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Phapitreron cinereiceps is endemic to the Sulu archipelago in the Philippines, where it is restricted to the island of Tawitawi and adjacent Sanga-sanga (Collar et al. 1999). On Tawitawi, there are recent records from four sites, including Languyan, Lubbuk and Tarawakan. On Sanga-sanga, it was recorded at one site in c.1987, but is almost certainly extinct there as the island retains virtually no forest. It was common at Tarawakan in 1996 and early 2008 (D. Allen in litt. 2008). The Tawitawi population is assumed to be very small, but the species is apparently shy and, as such, may not be as rare as feared. An estimated 250-300 km2 of forest remained on Tawitawi some time prior to 2001, although much of this has been selectively logged (Mallari et al. 2001). The species was heard there regularly in both primary and secondary forest during a field visit in January 2012 (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2012). The rate at which remaining tracts have been cleared for oil-palm plantations is thought to be lower than was feared previously, but it is still presumably being degraded very rapidly.

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

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature 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 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It inhabits lowland forest, including beach mangroves with mixed primary and secondary growth, and has been noted to be common in very logged forest on Tawitawi (D. Allen in litt. 2008), suggesting a substantial tolerance to habitat degradation. Likewise, during a field visit to Tawitawi in January 2012, the species was heard, and seemed more common in forest edge and secondary forest, compared with primary forest (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2012). It is unlikely to be altitudinally restricted, as the maximum elevation on Tawitawi is c.500 m.

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In 1994, remaining primary forest on Tawitawi and adjacent islands was being rapidly cleared, and the remaining areas of forest were highly degraded and recently logged (Mallari et al. 2001). In 1996, there were plans to replace even these with oil-palm plantations. Logging of the few remaining tracts, now confined to rugged, mountainous areas, is likely to be followed by uncontrolled settlement and conversion to agriculture. Illegal logging remains rampant, particularly in the north-eastern part of Tawi-tawi Island in Barangay Himba, Municipality of Tandubas, followed by forest clearance for cassava plantation. Harvesting of poles and boles for fuelwood and stilt-house building are also continuing activities especially in the islands of Simunul and Mantabuan (B. Tabaranza in litt. 2007). A new emerging threat, particularly in the Municipality of Languyan, is mining. Only very small areas of heavily degraded low-stature forest remain on Sanga-sanga. Hunting and trapping remain considerable threats to the species. It appears that environmental laws are not strictly or effectively enforced (B. Tabaranza in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Military activity and insurgency continue to present a serious obstacle to general conservation activity in the Sulus. There are no protected areas in the archipelago. A project proposal exists to provide conservation funding for the Tawitawi/Sulu Coastal Area. In 1997, a public awareness campaign focusing on the conservation of terrestrial biodiversity on Tawitawi was initiated. Haribon through the "EU-Integrating Forest Conservation with Local Governance in the Philippines (EU-IFCLGP, 2001-5)" project and the "CEPF-Threatened Species Programme (TSP, 2002-7)" initiated some activities in Tawitawi leading to future site-conservation actions. A preliminary bio-physical survey and a participatory appraisal were conducted in the Municipality of Languyan in 2003. A flyer using the results of the survey highlighting the threatened species of birds and other taxa was produced and widely distributed to schools, LGUs and local communities (B. Tabaranza in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct an intensive survey in remaining forests to identify further key sites. Determine its ecological requirements, particularly tolerance of degraded habitats. Urgently protect remaining forest and any other areas of habitat found to support the species. Incorporate protective measures relevant to the species within conservation funding proposals for the Tawitawi/Sulu Coastal Area, as and where appropriate. Continue and expand environmental awareness programmes in the Sulu archipelago. Encourage the participation of local people in research and conservation actions and provide relevant training.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Phapitreron cinereiceps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 30 August 2015.
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