Proposal (576) to South American Classification Committee
Add Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera to the Main List as an introduced species
SACC Background: There is no background for this species in the SACC.
History of Lophura nycthemera and other introduced Phasianidae in Argentina: The Silver Pheasant L. nycthemera, native of southeast Asia, was first introduced in Argentina between 1907 and 1911 at Puerto Radal on the island of Isla Victoria in Lago Nahuel Huapi, southern Neuquén province (disputed by Río Negro province), central-western Argentina (Navas 2002). The island, in the Patagonian Lake District, is forested within the Patagonian Forest ecosystem, covers an area of 31 km², and is protected within the Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, which covers some 705,000 ha. Lophura nycthemera was one of four pheasant species introduced on the island in the same period (along with Golden Pheasant Chrysolophus pictus, Lady Amherst’s Pheasant C. amherstiae, and Kalij Pheasant Lophura leucomalanos) but was the only species to prosper (Navas 2002), and is the only naturalized and extant pheasant species left on the island (Christie et al. 2004, pers. obs.). The island is steeped in history, from the large population of indigenous Puelche and Poya indians, who were first encountered by Captain Juan Fernandez in 1620, to the rather bizarre installation of a huge zoological park by millionaire Aarón Anchorena in 1907 with the aim of transforming the island into a “model farm”. Anchorena was denounced, and jurisdiction of the island passed into the hands of the Ministry of Agriculture, before becoming part of the national park in 1934; its present status. The Indian population was expelled in the early 19th century, but the legacy of the zoo and park project includes many introduced species on the island today including Silver Pheasant, sequoias brought from California, giant tuyas, and at least 1000 deer of three species (Fallow Deer Dama dama, Red Deer, and Axis Deer Axis axis).
Status of Silver Pheasant at Isla Victoria
By 1962, the pheasant population on Victoria Island was defined as being 2,000 individuals (Anziano 1962). By 2002, only the Silver Pheasant was considered to have extant populations and could be found in many parts of the forest (Navas 2002), being described as “common” and recorded during visits in all three 10 x 10 km sq. survey quadrants covering the island (Christie et al. 2004). Isla Victoria has an altitudinal range of 760-1030 m, where L. nycthemera is found in small groups or alone in forest with sparse undergrowth and in clearings (Christie et al. 2004). Various authors of Patagonian guides accept the existence of the L. nycthemera population at Isla Victoria (Christie et al. 1994, Couve & Vidal 2003), and the species has been included on Argentine lists (e.g. Mazar Barnett & Pearman 2001).
Conclusion: All data point towards a healthy population of this Asian introduction on a protected island in the Patagonian forest. A spread in distribution seems unlikely because of strict control by the Administración de Parques Nacionales. It is important to note that the Silver Pheasant has survived for at least 102 years on Isla Victoria, where fully naturalized.
Evidence: Little direct tangible evidence is available. A 2011 Congress poster (pdf available) includes a photograph of a male taken at Isla Victoria (Martín et al. 2011). Two rectrices from two different males collected at Isla Victoria, are to be deposited at MACN. Additionally, a video of a female on Isla Victoria can be seen here
Recommendation: We recommend a YES vote to add the species directly onto the Main list. A No vote would add it to the Hypothetical list.
ANZIANO, A.F. 1962. Acción de los animales sobre la flora. In: Dimitri, M.J. La flora andino-patagónica. Anales de Parques Nacionales 9: 107-112.
CHRISTIE, M.I., RAMILO, E.J. & M.D. BETTINELLI. 2004. Aves del Noroeste Patagónico: Atlas y Guía. Soc. Nat. Andino Pat., Bariloche. L.O.L.A., Buenos Aires.
COUVE, E. & C. VIDAL. 2003. Aves de Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego y Peninsula Antartica, Isla Malvinas y Georgia del Sur. Editorial Fantastico Sur Birding Ltda.
MARTIN, V.L., AMICO, G.C. & M.A. NUÑEZ. 2011. Frugivory of silver pheasant in the Patagonian forests. 2nd World Conference on Biological Invasions and Ecosystem Functioning, Mar del Plata, Argentina.
MAZAR BARNETT, J. & M. PEARMAN. 2001. Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Argentina. Lynx Editions, Barcelona.
NAVAS, J.R. 2002. Las aves exóticas introducidas y naturalizadas en la Argentina. Rev. Mus. Arg. Cienc. Nat. (new series) 4(2): 191-202.
Mark Pearman and Nacho Areta, March 2013
Comments from Remsen: “YES. Meets our criteria for listing as an established introduced species. By the way, someone should get some DNA of this population just to see if and how much they have diverged in a century.”
Comments from Stiles: “YES. For a long-established population of a distinctive species, photographic evidence is surely sufficient to establish this record.”
Comments from Pacheco: “YES. After decades, the evidence of its establishment is enough.”
Comments from Nores: “YES. The species is established in Victoria Island (31 km²), Neuquén Province, Argentina.”