Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Thamnophilidae

Scientific Name: Rhopornis ardesiacus
Species Authority: (Wied, 1831)
Common Name(s):
English Slender Antbird
Rhopornis ardesiaca BirdLife International (2004)
Rhopornis ardesiaca Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)
Rhopornis ardesiaca Stotz et al. (1996)
Rhopornis ardesiaca Collar et al. (1994)
Rhopornis ardesiaca BirdLife International (2000)
Rhopornis ardesiaca Collar and Andrew (1988)
Taxonomic Source(s): SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Taxonomic Notes: Gender agreement of species name follows David and Gosselin (2002b).
Identification information: 19 cm. Large, grey antbird with red iris. Male ashy-grey above, paler below. Black, triangular throat patch. Long blackish tail and wings with fine white wing-bars. Long blackish bill. Female resembles male but duller. Rufous-brown forehead, crown and hindneck. Paler underparts. Whitish throat. Brownish iris. Voice Song is series of six or seven high-pitched and sharp kíu notes, of c.3 seconds duration. Sharp and metallic tchíek calls.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v);C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Whittaker, A. & Luiz, É.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Capper, D., Clay, R., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Williams, R.
This species has a very small and severely fragmented range and population, with records from few locations (Collar et al. 1992). Remaining habitat is declining rapidly, principally for conversion to cattle pasture. It consequently qualifies as Endangered.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Endangered (EN)
2004 Endangered (EN)
2000 Endangered (EN)
1996 Endangered (EN)
1994 Endangered (EN)
1988 Threatened (T)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Rhopornis ardesiacus occupies a small range in east Bahia (from Brejões south to Potiraguá [E. Luiz in litt. 2012]) and north-east Minas Gerais (Fazenda Santana, near Salto da Divisa [Ribon and Maldonado-Coelho 2001]), Brazil. Although it can be locally common, it is very rare and presumably declining owing to the rapid loss and fragmentation of its restricted habitat.

Countries occurrence:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 2400
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 6-10
Continuing decline in number of locations: Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Lower elevation limit (metres): 100
Upper elevation limit (metres): 900
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 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 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals. However, censuses in forest fragments in Boa Nova revealed an average density of 0.9 individuals / hectare and suggests that the populations exceeds 2500 birds (E. Luiz in litt. 2012).

Trend Justification:  A rapid and ongoing population decline is suspected owing to rates of habitat loss.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 600-1700 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: Yes
No. of subpopulations: 2-100 Continuing decline in subpopulations: Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation: 1-89

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It inhabits dry forest (mata-de-cipó) between 100-900 m, in areas characterised by a fairly open understorey with an abundance of lianas and patches of the huge terrestrial bromeliads of the genera Aechmea and Ananas. Pairs seem to have small home ranges (possibly as little as 50 m across, with estimates of 0.9 to 2 ha at Boa Nova [E. Luiz in litt. 2007]), but as suitable bromeliad patches are seldom close together, territories are usually separated by 100 m or more. The birds feed on the ground, on low branches and in the bromeliads, where they toss leaves searching for invertebrate prey, principally small termites but also including grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches and spiders. They have also been observed following army ant swarms. Breeding occurs primarily in October-December. A nest was found resting on a bromeliad leaf at ground level in a patch of terrestrial bromeliads in November (Luiz 2008).

Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 4.8
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Dry forest in east Bahia has been reduced to scattered fragments by rapid and continuing clearance for cattle pasture as well as clearance for firewood by local communities. Cattle and goats trample seedlings and prevent forest regrowth, and in some areas bromeliads are harvested for sale (E. Luiz in litt. 2007). Fragments totalled about 965 km2 in the early 1970s and, by 1990, 5-20% (nearer 5%) of primary dry forest was estimated to remain in this part of Bahia. However, much of what remains is apparently unsuitable for the species since many woodlots are highly disturbed by livestock. Furthermore, it has not been found in several areas of relatively pristine habitat.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected under Brazilian law. A conservation project began in 2004 at Boa Nova aiming to involve the local community with focus on research into the species' ecology, environmental education and awareness campaigns and implementing sustainable land-use practices (E. Luiz in litt. 2007). In 2010 a 10,000 ha national park and a 17,000 ha wildlife refuge were created at Boa Nova (E. Luiz in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Establish further protected areas within the species' range, especially at Salto da Divisa, Minas Gerais (E. Luiz in litt. 2012). Regulate land use within Boa Nova national park and restore habitats there (E. Luiz in litt. 2012).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Rhopornis ardesiacus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22701706A38113113. . Downloaded on 10 October 2015.
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