Atitlan Grebe Podilymbus gigas


Justification of Red List category
This species was endemic to Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, but is now Extinct. Its extinction occurred sometime between 1983 and 1986, caused by myriad alterations to its habitat.

Population justification
In 1929, the maximum population was estimated at c. 400 individuals (Llimona et al. 2020). Between 1960 and 1965, its population dropped from c.300 to 80 individuals in the 1960s, but recovered to a high of 232 in 1975 (LaBastille 1984). However, various factors drove the population down to 30 by 1983, and the species was extinct by 1986 (LaBastille 1990).

Distribution and population

Podilymbus gigas was endemic to Lake Atitlán, Guatemala (LaBastille 1974). 


It inhabited one freshwater lake.


Initial population declines were a result of competition and predation by Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides, introduced into the lake in 1960 (LaBastille 1984). However, increasing pressure on breeding sites from local reed-cutting and from tourism development, along with the murder of the government game warden for the national park during the political unrest of 1982 and falling lake levels following the earthquake of 1976, are likely to be the factors which drove the population to extinction (LaBastille 1990). Drowning in gill nets and disturbance by increasing boat traffic have also been suggested as contributory factors (Collar et al. 1994).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I.


Text account compilers
Martin, R., Hermes, C.

Brooks, T., Khwaja, N. & Mahood, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Podilymbus gigas. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/atitlan-grebe-podilymbus-gigas on 01/03/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 01/03/2024.