Southern Patagonia

Country/Territory Argentina,Chile,Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Area 170,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 1200m
Priority urgent
Habitat loss moderate
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

This large EBA at the southernmost tip of South America embraces the southern half of Santa Cruz province (Argentina), Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego (split between Chile and Argentina), Isla de los Estados (Argentina), mainland Chile in Magallanes province just west of the Straits of Magellan, and the islands south of the Beagle Channel (Chile); it also incorporates the Falkland Islands (which are a UK dependent territory). The boundaries of the EBA coincide with the distribution of the Patagonian grasslands (and include the southern portion of Patagonian steppe). The EBA does not include the subpolar Nothofagus woodlands to the south and west of this area. Apart from the obvious coastal habitats (rocky shores and sandy beaches), the characteristic vegetation of the EBA is sparse steppe-like vegetation, tussock grasslands (Poa spp.), open scrub and tundra.

Restricted-range species

Although the EBA is a large region, the actual area occupied by the restricted-range species is substantially smaller as most are coastal and lowland birds, although some records come from as high as 1,200 m.

Ten species are entirely restricted to this EBA, at least during the breeding season (see below). As there are some widely differing habitat requirements among the nine species, a number of distributional patterns arise: Podiceps gallardoi is restricted during the breeding season to the lakes of interior Santa Cruz province (up to 1,200 m), wintering on the Atlantic coast of Santa Cruz in (at least) the Coyle estuary (Cotinga 1995, 3: 9). Similarly, Pluvianellus socialis breeds around the shores of ponds and lakes in the southern part of this province, but also in eastern Tierra del Fuego and along the southern side of the Straits of Magellan (Woods 1988); this wader has been recorded as a vagrant on the Falklands, for, although part of the population is resident, some birds move northwards up the coast of Argentina in winter (Clark 1986, Woods 1988). These and Melanodera melanodera are the only restricted-range species to be found regularly in the interior of mainland Argentina, the remaining birds being primarily coastal, although Neoxolmis rufiventris migrates north to the interior during the winter months, and Geositta antarctica has also been recorded as a migrant in central and northern Argentina. Tachyeres brachypterus is endemic to the Falklands, where it is most numerous around large kelp beds in harbours and creeks, and the recently split Troglodytes cobbi (also a Falklands endemic) appears to be restricted to tiny offshore islands where it inhabits areas with mature tussock grass (Woods 1993). Cinclodes antarcticus and Melanodera melanodera are represented on the Falklands by endemic subspecies (Woods 1988).

Species IUCN Category
Ruddy-headed Goose (Chloephaga rubidiceps) LC
Falkland Steamerduck (Tachyeres brachypterus) LC
Hooded Grebe (Podiceps gallardoi) CR
Magellanic Plover (Pluvianellus socialis) NT
Striated Caracara (Phalcoboenus australis) NT
Short-billed Miner (Geositta antarctica) LC
(Cinclodes antarcticus) NR
Chocolate-vented Tyrant (Neoxolmis rufiventris) LC
Cobb's Wren (Troglodytes cobbi) LC
White-bridled Finch (Melanodera melanodera) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
Cordón Baquedano Chile
Desembocadura del Río San Juan Chile
Estancia San Gregorio Chile
Islas Malvinas Argentina
Parque Nacional Pali Aike Chile
AR246 Meseta Lago Buenos Aires Argentina
AR249 Meseta del Asador (o Aguila) Argentina
AR250 Parque Nacional Perito Moreno y Reserva Provincial San Lorenzo Argentina
AR251 Meseta Lago Strobel Argentina
AR252 La Angostura y Alto Río Chico Argentina
AR254 Parque Nacional Los Glaciares y adyacencias (Estancias El Sosiego, La Soledad y Anita) Argentina
AR258 Estuario del Río Gallegos Argentina
AR259 El Zurdo Argentina
AR260 Estancia El Cóndor Argentina
AR262 Reserva Costa Atlántica de Tierra del Fuego y zonas adyacentes Argentina
AR264 Isla de los Estados, Islas de Año Nuevo e islotes adyacentes Argentina
AR266 Canal Beagle Argentina
CL101 Norte de Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego Chile
CL104 Pingüinera del Seno Otway Chile
CL105 Monumento Natural Laguna de los Cisnes Chile
CL109 Isla Noir Chile
CL113 Parque Nacional Cabo de Hornos Chile
FK001 Beauchêne Island Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK003 Bird Island Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK004 Bleaker Island Group Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK007 Jason Islands Group Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK008 Keppel Island Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK009 Kidney Island Group Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK010 Lively Island Group Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK011 New Island Group Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK012 Passage Islands Group Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK013 Pebble Island Group Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK014 Saunders Island Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK015 Sea Lion Islands Group Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK016 Speedwell Island Group Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK017 West Point Island Group Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK018 Bull Point, East Falkland Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK019 Hope Harbour, West Falkland Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK020 Seal Bay, East Falkland Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK021 Volunteer Point, East Falkland Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
FK022 Bertha's Beach, East Falkland Falkland Islands (Malvinas)

Threat and conservation

Among the EBA's endemics there is a great reliance, direct or indirect, on natural grasland, especially tussock grass, much of which has now been destroyed by grazing livestock and introduced herbivores (Woods 1988, Dinerstein et al. 1995). Troglodytes cobbi has a minute range, its distribution being inversely related to the presence of introduced predators whose impact may have increased with the long-term destruction of the bird's grassland habitat (Woods 1993). A number of other restricted-range species are of conservation concern, with three birds especially standing out in this respect: Podiceps gallardoi due to its small breeding range and relatively small population (fewer than 5,000); Chloephaga rubidiceps, which has declined dramatically on the mainland and Tierra del Fuego, and presently finds its stronghold on the Falklands; and Phalcoboenus australis, which has been subject to hunting throughout its range and is much reduced in numbers (Woods 1988), with a Falkland Islands population estimated at 337 breeding pairs and an immature population probably capable of no more than replacing losses in the breeding population (Strange 1996).

The widespread threatened Austral Rail Rallus antarcticus (classified as Critical) and Austral Canastero Asthenes anthoides (Vulnerable) also occur in this EBA. It has been suggested that the Falklands are the most important known breeding site for Black-browed Albatross Diomedea melanophrys, Gentoo Penguin Pygoscelis papua, Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes chrysocome and Thin-billed Prion Pachyptila belcheri, and support important populations of a number of other seabirds (Croxall . 1984).

Protected areas in the EBA are relatively few, but include Tierra del Fuego National Park in Argentina and Magallanes National Reserve in Chile (IUCN 1992a). A number of predator-free islands supporting populations of Troglodytes cobbi are currently managed as protected areas (Warrah 1995, 7: 8-9).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Southern Patagonia. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 05/03/2021.