Ash-breasted Antbird Myrmoborus lugubris


Justification of Red List Category

Based on a model of future deforestation in the Amazon basin, and its dependence on primary forest, it is suspected that the population of this species will decline rapidly over the next three generations, and it has therefore been uplisted to Vulnerable.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'fairly common' (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to lose 23.8-24.4% of suitable habitat within its distribution over three generations (14 years) based on a model of Amazonian deforestation (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). Given the susceptibility of the species to fragmentation and/or edge effects, it is therefore suspected to decline by ≥30% over three generations.

Distribution and population

Myrmoborus lugubris is a polytypic river edge species of central Amazonia, and is fairly common. Subspecies berlepschi occurs Amazonas in extreme south-east Colombia, in Napo in extreme north-east Ecuador, in Loreto in north-east Peru, and in extreme west Amazonian Brazil from Rio Solimões eastwards to Tocantins (Zimmer et al. 2016). The other races are all found in Amazonian Brazil. Subspecies stictopterus ranges along the Rio Negro and nearby Rio Solimões, and is present in Rio Negro State Park's Anavilhanas Archipelago; it is presumably the subspecies found in 2002 in Roraima (Zimmer et al. 2016). Subspecies femininus is restricted to the lower Rio Madeira. The nominate subspecies lugubris is distributed along the Amazon River through Amazonas and Pará, from the junction with Rio Madeira in the west, eastwards as far as Baía do Guajará (del Hoyo et al. 2003, Zimmer et al. 2016).


This is an understorey species of lowland várzea (seasonally flooded forest) and igapó (permanently flooded forest) up to c.125 m. It mainly occurs on river islands in white water, favouring Cecropia forest and Heliconia thickets. Birds forage as individuals, pairs or family groups (not usually mixed-species flocks), mostly within 1 m of ground level. In seasonal habitats it breeds when the water level is low, constructing a cryptic nest of dead leaves on the forest floor (del Hoyo et al. 2003, Zimmer et al. 2016).


The primary threat to this species is accelerating deforestation in the Amazon basin as land is cleared for cattle ranching and soy production, facilitated by expansion of the road network (Soares-Filho et al. 2006, Bird et al. 2011). It is thought to be particularly susceptible to forest fragmentation and edge effects (A. Lees in litt. 2011). Proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code reduce the percentage of land a private landowner is legally required to maintain as forest (including, critically, a reduction in the width of forest buffers alongside perennial steams) and include an amnesty for landowners who deforested before July 2008 (who would subsequently be absolved of the need to reforest illegally cleared land) (Bird et al. 2011).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs within Rio Negro State Park (4360 km²) and Viruá National Park (2149 km²), in Brazil (Zimmer et al. 2016). No targeted action is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed

Expand the protected area network to effectively protect IBAs. Effectively resource and manage existing and new protected areas, utilising emerging opportunities to finance protected area management with the joint aims of reducing carbon emissions and maximizing biodiversity conservation. Conservation on private lands, through expanding market pressures for sound land management and preventing forest clearance on lands unsuitable for agriculture, is also essential (Soares-Filho et al. 2006). Campaign against proposed changes to the Brazilian Forest Code that would lead to a decrease in the width of the areas of riverine forest protected as Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs), which function as vital corridors in fragmented landscapes.


12-13 cm. Medium sized, sexually dimorphic antbird. Male has whitish grey forehead, with bluish grey crown and upperparts, darker on the wings and tail. Whitish grey below, darker on the flanks. Dark red iris. Female has yellowish red-brown crown and face, yellow-brown upperparts with buff-tipped wings, and whitish underparts. Voice Song is a loud series of sharp whistles, descending in pitch.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Symes, A., Sharpe, C J

Lees, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Myrmoborus lugubris. Downloaded from on 22/01/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/01/2022.