The Hoary-throated Spinetail is currently Endangered under the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (BirdLife International 2009). The species is not listed under Brazil’s current official list of threatened species (Machado et al. 2005) because of data deficiency, although this might be reviewed due to the recent publication of a detailed study (Vale et al. 2007). The Hoary-throated Spinetail has a very small and fragmented extent of occurrence and area of occupancy (sensu IUCN 2001) that is disappearing at a rapid rate (Vale et al. 2007). No area with the distribution of this species is formally protected within a conservation unit, and all of its range is within the region of highest anthropogenic pressure within Roraima state, Brazil (Monteiro and Sawyer 2001, Vale et al. 2007).
Effects of human activity on populations
The gallery forests within the range of Hoary-throated Spinetail rapidly are being converted into irrigated rice plantations (Figure 6). In 1997, rice plantations were considered an existing but minor threat to the species (Zimmer et al. 1997). In 1999, however, mechanized irrigated rice boomed in Roraima, and by 2002, the production had already tripled (Cordeiro 2005). The rice plantations are concentrated on the margins of the main tributaries of the rio Branco and rely heavily on fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides (Cordeiro 2005). Local authorities generally have failed to investigate reports by local indigenous populations of occasional bird and fish die-offs near these plantations (Vale et al. 2007). The margins of the rio Tacutu, rio Surumu, and rio Mau have been converted completely to rice plantations. In 2005, Mariana Vale recorded 16 irrigation pipes for rice along 110 km of the Rio Tacutu (between its mouth and Conceição do Mau).
About 60% of the gallery forest within the species’ range is inside indigenous reserves (Vale et al. 2007). Although these are not part of the Brazilian network of protected areas, indigenous people have had a much better record of maintaining the ecosystems around them than other populations in the Amazon (Fearnside 2003). In Roraima, most rice production is carried out illegally by non-indigenous people within indigenous land (Rohter 2004). Producers have already been evicted from the São Marcos Indigenous Reserve and should have been evicted from Raposa-Serra do Sol, following its final legalization on 13 April 2005, although this step has not yet been taken.