Tatamá Tapaculo Scytalopus alvarezlopezi


Justification of Red List Category

This species has only been described in 2017 and there is limited information about its population size and trends. Its range and number of locations of occurrence are small, thus approaching the threshold for listing as threatened. In the future, climate change may likely lead to a range contraction, and thus the species is suspected to undergo declines in range size, habitat quality and subsequently population size. Overall, Tatamá Tapaculo approaches, but does not meet sufficient conditions for listing as threatened, and is thus considered Near Threatened.

Population justification
The population size of this species has not been quantified. A preliminary population estimate was derived from a congener with similar habitat requirements, the Ecuadorian Tapaculo (Scytalopus robbinsi); this species occurs at a density of c. 27 mature individuals per km2 in suitable forest (Hermes et al. 2017). Assuming that the Tatamá Tapaculo occurs at a similar density and further assuming that 25% of forested habitat across its range is occupied (i.e. c.1,350 km2; Global Forest Watch 2021), the population may number c. 36,000 mature individuals. Therefore, it is here placed in the band 20,000-49,999 mature individuals.

Due to its limited dispersal abilities (per Stiles et al. 2017), the species likely forms several disjunct subpopulations.

Trend justification
The population trend of Tatamá Tapaculo has not been quantified. Even though its specific habitat requirements make it vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation as a result of deforestation, forests within its range remain largely continuous, intact and not highly threatened (Stiles et al. 2017). Over the past ten years, 4% of tree cover within the range has been lost (Global Forest Watch 2021). Tatamá Tapaculo is further susceptible to current and future climate change, as it may result in range contractions and habitat loss, potentially causing a population decline in the future (Velázquez-Tibatá et al. 2013; Stiles et al. 2017). Therefore, while the rate of population decline has likely been <10% over the past ten years, it may increase in the future and is here suspected to amount to up to 19% over the next ten years.

Distribution and population

Tatamá Tapaculo is endemic to the Pacific slope of the Western Andes in Colombia, from western Chocó and northwestern Antioquia in the north to southwestern Valle del Cauca in the south. It ranges from 1,350-1,800 m on the western slopes, but has been found locally on the eastern slopes up to an elevation of 2,200 m when the ridge line does not exceed 2,200-2,300 m (Stiles et al. 2017).


The species typically inhabits the dense understorey vegetation on the floors and lower slopes of ravines in cloud forest between elevations of 1,350 to 2,200 m, where it moves around mainly by hopping on the ground and short distance flights (Stiles et al. 2017). Whilst the species is locally very common in intact habitat, it does not occur in secondary growth forests (Stiles et al. 2017).


The main threat posed to the Tatamá Tapaculo arises from range contractions and habitat loss driven by climate change (Velázquez-Tibatá et al. 2013; Stiles et al. 2017). A closely related species with similar habitat requirements, the Ecuadorian Tapaculo Scytalopus robbinsi, was found to shift its range uphill by up to 100 m per decade (Hermes et al. 2017); as such it is likely that Tatamá Tapaculo is undergoing a range shift at a similar rate. Consequently, the species may lose large areas of habitat near the lower boundary of its narrow altitudinal distribution, while being squeezed towards the upper limit of  suitable cloud forests and mountain tops. Deforestation is currently not considered a significant threat, despite the typical vulnerability of its restricted habitat to such losses, as the forests within its range remain continuous, intact and not highly threatened (Stiles et al. 2017).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation action is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey the population size. Monitor the population trend. Survey areas of suitable habitat to assess the species's occurrence and distribution range. Investigate potential threats to the species and their impact on the population size. Protect suitable habitat within the range, with a particular focus on areas near the upper range limit to account for a future upslope shift.


Tatamá Tapaculo is a medium-sized, blackish tapaculo with body mass approximately 25.5g. Males are black above, rump tinged dark brown, dark grayish-black below. Posterior, flanks, extreme lower abdomen and crissum are broadly and slightly indistinctly barred black and dark rufous. Primaries and tail are dark brownish-black. Iris dark brown, bill black, legs and feet dark brown. Females and juveniles are presently unrecorded, but the two members of a presumed pair seen at close range did not differ appreciably (Stiles et al. 2017).


Text account compilers
Hermes, C.

Everest, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Scytalopus alvarezlopezi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/12/2022.