Argya altirostris 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Leiotrichidae

Scientific Name: Argya altirostris (Hartert, 1909)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Iraq Babbler
Turdoides altirostris (Hartert, 1909)
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Taxonomic Notes: Argya altirostris (del Hoyo and Collar 2016) was previously listed as Turdoides altirostris.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Fisher, S., Harding, M.
Although this species may have a restricted range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs from far southeastern Turkey across central Syria to southeast Iraq and adjacent southwest Iran.
Countries occurrence:
Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Syrian Arab Republic; Turkey
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:386000
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
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as locally common; common in Basra and Baghdad provinces of Iraq (del Hoyo et al. 2007). The European population is estimated at 50-100 pairs, which equates to 100-200 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend Justification:  The population is suspected to be in decline due to the loss of marsh habitat as a result of flood-control, drainage and irrigation projects, and owing to increasing human settlement of the area. The tiny European population is estimated to be increasing (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:UnknownContinuing 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:This species occurs in the reedbeds of the Mesopotamian marshes, and is also found in rural habitats along rivers and irrigation canals (Stattersfield et al. 1998). It prefers dense reedbeds, palm groves, date gardens and poplar trees (Populus euphratica) lining waterways, adjacent cultivated fields and thickets. In Europe, it breeds from May and in central Iraq mainly between April and June. It is monogamous, with occasional cooperative breeding. The nest is a rather untidy deep cup of stems, lined with grass, dead leaves, rootlets, fibres, reeds and feathers. It is set in a leaf-sheltered fork of a tree (poplar, tamarisk) or in reeds. Clutches are three or four eggs. It feeds on invertebrates, mostly insects and spiders (Araneae). The species is resident (Collar and Robson 2016).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):8.8
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There has been considerable loss of wetlands within its range due to large-scale projects for flood control, drainage and irrigation (Maltby 1994). These apparently prevented water from entering up to two-thirds of the marshes during 1992-1993, and satellite images show huge areas drying up (Evans 1993, Pearce 1993). The Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) resulted in extensive burning, heavy bombing and the use of chemical weapons in the marshes (Stattersfield et al. 1998). The increase in settlement and improvement in access to the region has resulted in further disturbance, with levels of pollution increasing substantially through the use of insecticides (Stattersfield et al. 1998).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Present in Mesopotamian Marshes EBA.

Conservation Actions Proposed
This species would likely benefit from the protection and preservation of its marshland habitat, including the restriction of access to important areas. In addition a ban on the widespread use of insecticides would assist recovery.

Amended [top]

Amended reason: Edit to Geographic Range text and country coding to include Turkey, and added Taxonomic Note and associated reference.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Argya altirostris (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22716341A111980937. . Downloaded on 18 June 2018.
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