Diamantina Tapaculo Scytalopus diamantinensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a very small range with fewer than five locations and its habitat is declining owing to the replacement of natural vegetation by coffee and banana plantations, collection of firewood for domestic and industrial use and unregulated tourism. For these reasons, this species is evaluated as Endangered.

Population justification
The population size has not been quantified and further research is required.

Trend justification
The species's population is suspected to be in decline owing to the continued loss and degradation of its forest habitat, as driven by the expansion and shifting of agriculture, charcoal production and use of fires in pasture management (Bornschein et al. 2007).

Distribution and population

Scytalopus diamantinensis was described following fieldwork, conducted in 2006, and subsequent analyses of specimens, vocalisations and mitochondrial DNA (Bornschein et al. 2007). It is known only from the Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil (Bornschein et al. 2007).


The species inhabits both mature forest and secondary growth (capoeira), on terrain varying from steep to almost flat, at 850-1,600 m (Bornschein et al. 2007). It is often found in low capoeira dominated by the fern Pteridium aquilinum. It may infrequently visit adjacent shrubby campo rupestre vegetation. It favours patches of dense vegetation such as bamboo stands, masses of dead fern leaves and fallen stems. The species has been observed to move around at ground level and in the lower vegetation strata, up to 2 m above the ground (Bornschein et al. 2007).


Its habitat is threatened by clearance for agriculture, primarily the cultivation of coffee and bananas, as well as cutting for both subsistence and industrial scale charcoal production and frequent wildfires originally set to improve pasture or clear vegetation for shifting agriculture (Bornschein et al. 2007, R. Belmonte-Lopes and M. R. Bornschein in litt. 2009). The remaining forest fragments in the Chapada Diamantina are described as very disturbed. Large-scale governmental projects and unsustainable ecotourism are also listed as threats (Bornschein et al. 2007). The species's ability to persist in both young and old secondary growth, including regenerating logged forest (Bornschein et al. 2007) indicates some tolerance of habitat degradation and disturbance.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species's range is partly protected by Chapada Diamantina National Park, Marimbu/Iraquara State Environmental Protection Area, and possibly Morro do Chapu State Park. Forest clearance is reported to be ongoing in the national park (Bornschein et al. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to find new locations and obtain a population estimate. Monitor population trends. Monitor the extent and condition of suitable habitat. Promote sustainable ecotourism practices. Protect more forest fragments in the species's known range, perhaps partly through encouragement of private reserve designation (Bornschein et al. 2007). Provide alternatives to local people to reduce pressure on habitats.


13cm. This species is typical of the genus Scytalopus, being small, predominantly grey in colouration, with a relatively short tail. Males have blackish grey crown, nape, upper neck and back, with some brown and black barring on the blackish grey rump and uppertail coverts. Chin light grey; throat and breast slightly darker grey. Belly medium grey, becoming paler to whitish in the centre of the lower belly. Flanks and extreme lower belly brown to cinnamon, barred blackish. Undertail coverts barred blackish and cinnamon. Iris dark brown. Bill black, with some brown areas. Legs and feet brown with yellowish-brown undersides to the toes. The upperparts are washed dark brownish olive and the belly is slightly paler in subadult males, with some variation in barring. A presumed subadult female had brownish upperparts and cinnamon rump, the feathers having blackish edges and central dots; throat grey and upper breast washed buffy. Voice/Similar spp It utters a tcheep call, which is distinctive among its congeners. Its song is generally faster-paced and lower-pitched compared to congeners, although with some overlap, and its accelerating song is slower paced compared with closely related species.


Text account compilers
Sharpe, C J, Taylor, J., Wheatley, H. & Ashpole, J

Belmonte-Lopes, R., Bornschein, M. & Lebbin, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Scytalopus diamantinensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/10/2021.