Annamese lowlands

Country/Territory Laos,Vietnam
Area 51,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 1000m
Priority critical
Habitat loss severe
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

The Annamese lowlands cover the lowlands and foothills of north-central Vietnam (in southern Ninh Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe Anh, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thu Thien Hue provinces) and part of adjacent central Laos.

The natural vegetation of this region is tropical lowland evergreen and semi-evergreen rain forest below c.1,000 m, with tropical montane rain forest above this altitude. However, the coastal lowlands had been deforested almost entirely by 1945, and the forest in the foothills is now highly fragmented and degraded, with few substantial areas of good-quality forest remaining (Collins et al. 1991). The EBA has been represented on the map by all land below c.1,000 m within the known historical distributions of the restricted-range species.

Restricted-range species

This part of Indo-China had, until recently, received relatively little ornithological coverage (see ICBP 1992), and the distributions and habitat requirements of the restricted-range species were poorly known. However, surveys by BirdLife International and scientists from the Institute for Ecology and Biological Resources and from the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute are now rapidly improving the quality of the available information (see Robson et al. 1991, 1993a,b, Eames et al. 1992, 1994, 1995a, Lambert et al. 1994).

All of the restricted-range species are found in lowland rain forest, although the distribution of Rheinardia ocellata also extends upwards into montane forest and Garrulax vassali is principally a lower montane species of only marginal occurrence in this EBA. The three Lophura pheasants appear to be extreme lowland forest specialists, as they have not definitely been recorded above about 300 m. Jabouilleia danjoui occurs in lowland forest in this EBA, but is a montane forest bird in the Da Lat plateau (EBA 145). Stachyris herberti is a specialist of forest on limestone.

Several of the restricted-range species are known from just a few localities. The only recent records of Arborophila merlini are from Bach Ma National Park, where it is common. Lophura imperialis is known by one old record and a male trapped in 1990 near Cat Bin (Ke Go) on the border between Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces. L. edwardsi was historically known from at least eight localities in the southern part of the EBA, and was feared extinct in the wild (as it had not been recorded since about 1930) until a pair were captured near Bach Ma National Park in 1996 (Anon. 1996). L. hatinhensis occurs to the north of the range of L. edwardsi (and may be conspecific with it: Vuilleumier et al. 1992), with recent records near Cat Bin (Ke Go) (Ha Tinh province) in 1990 and in a nearby area of primary forest in the Net river watershed (Quang Binh province) in 1994. Stachyris herberti is known from specimens collected at two localities in central Laos in the 1920s and sightings in Phong Nha Nature Reserve in Bo Trach district in 1994 and Minh Hoa district in Quang Binh province in 1996 (J. C. Eames in litt. 1996). Jabouilleia danjoui and Macronous kelleyi have recently been recorded in Cuc Phuong National Park (Crosby 1995, J. C. Eames in litt. 1996), considerably further north than any previous record of any of the EBA’s restricted-range species.

Species IUCN Category
(Arborophila merlini) NR
Crested Argus (Rheinardia ocellata) EN
(Lophura edwardsi) NR
(Lophura hatinhensis) NR
(Lophura imperialis) NR
Sooty Babbler (Stachyris herberti) LC
Grey-faced Tit-babbler (Mixornis kelleyi) LC
(Rimator danjoui) NR
White-cheeked Laughingthrush (Garrulax vassali) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Truong Son Vietnam
LA017 Upper Xe Bangfai Laos
LA018 Hin Namno Laos
LA023 Eastern Bolikhamxay Mountains Laos
LA025 Nakai-Nam Theun Laos
LA026 Khammouan Limestone Laos
VN019 Ke Go Vietnam
VN021 Phong Dien Vietnam
VN022 Vu Quang Vietnam
VN026 Bach Ma Vietnam
VN031 Dakrong Vietnam
VN034 Cuc Phuong Vietnam
VN035 Khe Net Vietnam
VN039 Phong Nha Vietnam
VN040 Ke Bang Vietnam
VN041 Truong Son Vietnam
VN042 Pu Mat Vietnam

Threat and conservation

All the coastal plain forest in this EBA has already been cleared, and the only suitable habitat remaining for the lowland species is in small valleys and on the lower slopes of the hills. Causes of deforestation in the past include clearance for agriculture to feed a rapidly increasing population, warfare and logging. The remaining forests are subject to commercial logging, further clearance for permanent agriculture and settlements, and degradation as a result of fuelwood collection, shifting agriculture and fire (Collins et al. 1991, Eames et al. 1992).

Seven of the restricted-range bird species are classified as threatened, including all five of those which are confined to this EBA. More widespread threatened forest birds which occur are Siamese Fireback Lophura diardi, Green Peafowl Pavo muticus, Blyth's Kingfisher Alcedo hercules and Red-collared Woodpecker Picus rabieri (all classified as Vulnerable). The major threat to all of these species is deforestation, although the pheasants are also hunted for food.

At least seven gazetted protected areas within the EBA contain suitable habitat for the restricted-range species. Bach Ma National Park supports populations of several, but of these only Arborophila merlini is endemic to the EBA (Eames et al. 1992). Two restricted-range species have been recorded in Nakai-Nam Theun National Biodiversity Conservation Area in central Laos (Poole 1994), two in Cuc Phuong National Park and two or three in Vu Quang Nature Reserve (Eames et al. 1994), but none of these are endemics. Phong Nha Nature Reserve supports Stachyris herberti and Macronous kelleyi, and possibly some of the other endemic species. Pu Mat Nature Reserve, Bin En National Park and Pu Huong proposed nature reserve could also be important for some of these birds, but none has been recorded in any of them yet (Eames et al. 1994).

Two of the lowland specialists, Lophura imperialis and L. hatinhensis, have been recorded at Ke Go, although the forest here is degraded and illegal logging persists (Eames et al. 1994, Lambert et al. 1994); the Ke Go Nature Reserve was established for their protection by the Vietnamese government in December 1996 (Anon. 1997a). Surveys in 1994 located another important area of lowland forest nearby in the Net river watershed in Quang Binh province, which supports at least one of the species endemic to the EBA, and Lambert et al. (1994) recommend that a new protected area needs to be established here.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Annamese lowlands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 18/10/2021.