Laterallus jamaicensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Gruiformes Rallidae

Scientific Name: Laterallus jamaicensis (Gmelin, 1789)
Common Name(s):
English Black Rail
Taxonomic Source(s): Fjeldså, J. 1983. A Black Rail from Junín, central Peru: Laterallus jamaicensis tuerosi ssp. n. (Aves: Rallidae). Steenstrupia: 277-282.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Nadeau, C., Tsao, D., Roach, N. & Hand, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Bird, J., Isherwood, I., Sharpe, C.J., Wege, D., Wheatley, H.
This poorly known species is believed to be declining at a moderately rapid rate and consequently it is classified as Near Threatened (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Laterallus jamaicensis is widespread, but very local, in fresh and saline marshes, wet meadows and savanna in North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. The nominate race occurs on the east coast of USA, with sporadic records inland to Colorado and Minnesota (but no confirmed nesting since 1932). It is very local in north-east Mexico, Belize, Guatemala (only in 1903), Costa Rica, Panama (only in 1963), and has recently been recorded in Honduras (R. Gallardo in litt. 2013). It is locally rare in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, but mainly a winter visitor on Jamaica and Cuba. It was probably extirpated as a breeder from Puerto Rico (to USA) by introduced mongooses, and is now extremely rare in winter. It is recorded as a non-breeder in the Virgin Islands (to USA). There is one recent record from north Brazil. The race coturniculus is very local in south-west USA, irregularly to north-west Mexico (one recent record). The race murivagans occurs at few coastal marshes in central Peru. The race salinasi is rare and local in south Peru to central Chile and adjacent parts of west-central Argentina. It may occur (doubtful race pygmaeus) in the Colombian East Andes. In USA, most populations declined drastically in the 20th century, and the breeding range seriously contracted.

Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Belize; Brazil; Chile; Costa Rica; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Mexico; Panama; Peru; Puerto Rico; United States; Virgin Islands, U.S.
Regionally extinct:
Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; Bermuda
Present - origin uncertain:
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:33900000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):4100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:25,000-100,000 individuals for jamaicensis (unpublished report 'Waterbird Conservation for the Americas 2001' cited in Wetlands International 2002); plus 17,702-36,806 individuals for coturniculus (Spautz et. al. 2005), totalling 42,702 - 136,806 individuals, rounded here to 42,700-137,000 individuals. This equates to 28,468-91,204 mature individuals, rounded here to 28,500 - 91,200 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  This poorly known species is facing a number of serious threats which are thought to be causing declines in many parts of its range. The number of recent records suggest it is extremely scarce or no longer occurs in a number of former areas. There is anecdotal information to suggest that declines have occurred along the Atlantic coast of the US for the past 20 years due to loss of coastal breeding habitat, particularly in the Chesapeake bay region where the species is considered to have seen a big decline in occupied sites over the past 10 years (N. Roach in litt. 2016). The overall population is suspected to be declining at a moderately rapid rate.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:28500-91200Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It inhabits fresh and saline marshes, wet meadows and savanna. It occupies marshes with shallower water than other rallids and requires some tall vegetation to escape into. Feeds on terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. Uses impoundments (managed wetlands) to forage and nest (Nicolette & Barrett 2015).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):3.7
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Continued massive degradation of wetlands habitats give cause for concern. In parts of its range it is threatened by pollution, drought, wildfires, groundwater removal, changing water levels, grazing and agricultural expansion (Eddleman et al. 1994, Taylor and van Perlo 1998).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in a number of protected areas. Habitat restoration and creation for coturniculus is ongoing as part of the Lower Colorado River Multi-species Habitat Conservation Program (LCRMSCP 2004, Nadeau and Conway 2015).  Included in the North American Marsh Bird Monitoring Protocol (Conway 2011).  South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has implemented a monitoring program. A Black Rail Working Group has been established.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conserve wetland habitats within its range. Manage retreat at coastal sites so they continue to support the species in the face of sea level rise and increased storm frequency. Take into account in management of potentially suitable impounded tidal marshes.  Protect threatened sub-populations.

Amended [top]

Amended reason: Added movement pattern. Map updated.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Laterallus jamaicensis (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22692353A119206812. . Downloaded on 16 August 2018.
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