Alaotra grebe

The Alaotra grebe (Tachybaptus rufolavatus), also known as Delacour's little grebe or rusty grebe, is an extinct grebe that was endemic to Lake Alaotra and its surrounding lakes in Madagascar.

Alaotra grebe
Tachybaptus rufolavatus - Zürich Zoo.JPG

Extinct  (2010) (IUCN 3.1)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Podicipediformes
Family: Podicipedidae
Genus: Tachybaptus
T. rufolavatus
Binomial name
Tachybaptus rufolavatus
(Delacour, 1932)
Tachybaptus rufolavatus range.svg
Alaotra grebe range


The grebe was about 25 cm (9.8 in) long.[2] Its ability to fly long distances was restricted because of its small wings.[3]


The species declined in the course of the 20th century, mainly because of habitat destruction, entanglement with monofilament gillnets and predation by the introduced blotched snakehead (Channa maculata).[4] Also, the few remaining birds increasingly hybridized with little grebes; as the species differed in several key aspects, the hybrid birds may have suffered from decreased fitness, to the detriment of the rufolavatus gene pool.[5][6]

The Madagascar pochard, which also lived on Lake Alaotra, was thought to be extinct but was rediscovered in 2006.[7] Unlike this species, however, the grebe had poor powers of dispersal and was never found elsewhere.[6]

The last sighting (which may have been a hybrid with the little grebe) was in 1985 and the species was declared extinct in 2010.[8][9] Only one photograph of the species is known to exist.[3][9][10] Although some species have been classified as extinct and later have been found to still exist, Leon Bennun, the director of the conservation organization BirdLife International has stated that "no hope remains for this species" and blames the "unforeseen consequences" of human action.[10]

This extinction brought the number of confirmed bird extinctions since 1600 AD to 162. The previous declaration of a bird species as extinct was that of the Liverpool pigeon (Caloenas maculata) in 2008.[3] However, that was more a problem of recognition as that species was last recorded alive in the late 18th or early 19th century.[3]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Tachybaptus rufolavatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22696558A93570744. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22696558A93570744.en.
  2. ^ Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish Corporation. 2001. p. 649. ISBN 978-0-7614-7194-3.
  3. ^ a b c d Walker, Matt (26 May 2010). "Bird conservation: Alaotra grebe confirmed extinct". BBC News. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  4. ^ Andrianandrasana, Herizo T.; Randriamahefasoa, Jonah; Durbin, Joanna; Lewis, Richard E.; Ratsimbazafy, Jonah H. (2005). "Participatory ecological monitoring of the Alaotra wetlands in Madagascar". Biodiversity and Conservation. 14 (11): 2757–2774. CiteSeerX doi:10.1007/s10531-005-8413-y. S2CID 1063617.
  5. ^ Madagascar: Environment Profile
  6. ^ a b Fuller, Errol (2013). Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record. London, UK: Bloomsbury. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-4081-7215-5.
  7. ^ "Madagascar's Rediscovery" (PDF). BirdLife International. October 2006.
  8. ^ BirdLife International (2010) Species factsheet: Tachybaptus rufolavatus. Downloaded from "BirdLife | Partnership for nature and people". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2013-08-07. on 26 May 2010
  9. ^ a b BirdLife International (2010). Wetland aliens cause bird extinction.
  10. ^ a b Elliott, Valerie (26 May 2010). "Alaotra grebe declared extinct after struggle against carnivorous fish". The Times. Retrieved 26 May 2010.