Dec 142011

Field Expeditions and Ecological Studies

Potential distribution models will be used to guide field expeditions to search for each threatened population of Pyrrhura in Colombia. These expeditions will be used for model-validation, as well as allowing us to identify appropriate localities for studies focused on identifying pressures and threats, and determining population status and ecology.

Below is a summary of the most important results obtained to date – specifically our key findings from field expeditions carried out in Los Motilones Mountains between June and September 2011. More detailed information will be available soon in scientific publications and may be requested from the project team.

  • Two previously unknown populations of  Todd’s Parakeet Pyrrhura picta caeruleiceps were found along the Los Motilones Mountains, in the Cesar department, northern Colombia. These populations are unlikely to exceed 120 individuals (in size).
  • Preliminary model validation results confirm their high sensivity and specificity when predicting the potential distribution of P. p. caeruleiceps along the north-eastern Andes and the Perijá Mountains.
Panoramic view from one of the localities visited during field expeditions to the Los Motilones Mountains. Photo: Jeyson Sanabria-SELVA Archive.
  • When visiting the most suitable localities for P. p. caeruleiceps according to our models, we observed a highly transformed landscape between 500 and 1000 m.a.s.l. in the Los Motilones Mountains.
Panoramic view from one of the localities visited during field expeditions in the Los Motilones Mountains. Photos: Jeyson Sanabria-SELVA Archive.
  • Populations of P. p. caeruleiceps found during expeditions were associated with remnants of humid forest located in steep-sided river basins and ravines.
  • Preliminary expeditions suggest that P. p. caeruleiceps could occur throughout the Los Motilones Mountains and the northernmost part of the eastern Andes (Norte de Santander department). It will be necessary to reconfirm the species’ presence in the Perijá Mountains, and also to determine whether it occurs in the Catatumbo region.
A group of P. p. caeruleiceps observed in the northernmost reaches of the Los Motilones Mountains. Photo: Jeyson Sanabria-SELVA Archive.
P. p. caeruleicepsPhotos: Jeyson Sanabria-SELVA Archive.
  • We obtained numerous records that help compliment the available information on the diet and habitat requirements of P. p. caeruleiceps. The most commonly consumed items were from plant genera such as Psidium, Cecropia, Guazuma, and a few others.
P. p. caeruleiceps consuming fruits of Psidium guajava (Myrtaceae). Photos: Jeyson Sanabria-SELVA Archive.
  • Analyses of land-cover composition and fragmentation will be necessary to estimate the probability of migration and/or dispersion among all populations of P. p. caeruleiceps, and also to determine if connectivity between populations still exists.
  • Estimations of area of occupancy for this subspecies along with a preliminary evaluation of the main threats and population size in each locality visited suggests that P. p. caeruleiceps should be considered under one of the IUCN’s threat categories according to criteria B1, B2 and C.
  • Although we observed P. p. caeruleiceps using transformed areas, most groups were observed in gallery forest fragments and flying a few meters above the forest canopy. These records would support the argument that Pyrrhura parakeets require continuous forest cover to make long flights related to local migration or dispersion.
  • It remains necessary to reconfirm the species’ presence in the northernmost part of the Perijá Mountains and the Eastern Cordillera. Also, it is very important that ecological studies are initiated in order to quantify habitat requirements.

 P. p. caeruleicepsPhotos: Jeyson Sanabria-SELVA Archive.