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Phoboscincus bocourti

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA SCINCIDAE

Scientific Name: Phoboscincus bocourti
Species Authority: (Brocchi, 1876)
Common Name(s):
English Bocourt's Eyelid Skink, Bocourt’s Terrific Skink
French Scinque Terrifiant De Bocourt
Synonym(s):
Eumeces bocourti Brocchi, 1876

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2009-06-30
Assessor(s): Sadlier, R.A., Whitaker, A.H. & Bauer, A.M.
Reviewer(s): Böhm, M., Collen, B., Ram, M. (Sampled Red List Index Coordinating Team), Cox, N. & Tognelli, M.F.
Justification:
P. bocourti is listed as Endangered as it is only known from one location, a small islet off of the Ile des Pins in New Caledonia, and its population size is estimated to be less than 250 mature individuals. Although unlikely to be under immediate threat due to the islet being uninhabited, there are potential threats, such as invasive species and wildfires, that could have a rapid and serious impact on this species. Further research and monitoring should be carried out to determine its population status and trends to see whether it should be listed in a higher category of threat.
History:
1996 Data Deficient
1994 Indeterminate (Groombridge 1994)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

P. bocourti is endemic to Province Sud, New Caledonia. It is known to exist only on a small islet off Ile des Pins, New Caledonia (Ineich 2009). While it is speculated that the species may also occur on other islets off the Ile des Pins, on Ile des Pins itself and even on Grande Terre, there are no data at present to support this (Ineich 2006). The species remained unrecorded and known only from the single type specimen since it was described in 1876 up until eight years ago when it was rediscovered, but still only remains known in the wild from two individuals.

The islet on which the species has been found is c. 0.5 km²; the Isle of Pines is 152 km² (I. Ineich pers. comm.). The extent of occurrence is estimated as the size of the islet (0.5 km²) and the area of occupancy is <0.5 km².
Countries:
Native:
New Caledonia
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There is no information on population size and trends for P. bocourti. Until recently, it was presumed extinct, as no observations had been made since the holotype was collected (Bauer and Sadlier 2000). However, in December 2003 and November 2005, Ivan Ineich from Muséum national d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris recorded two individuals on a small islet off Ile des Pins, New Caledonia (Ineich 2006). 

The data available suggest that population density is low (or the species is very elusive). Given the very small size of the island on which it occurs, it is presumed that this is a relict population and that the species has been extirpated from Ile des Pins -and perhaps also Grande Terre- by a combination of habitat loss and predation by introduced mammals.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Ile des Pins is dominated by coastal humid forest. Very little is known of the species' ecology. It is presumed to be diurnal and terrestrial, but there is some evidence of arboreal behaviour (one found 1 m above ground on a horizontal branch, another climbed quickly up a vertical trunk when released). It occupies low coastal forest. It is presumed to bask, as one was observed motionless in a patch of sunlight..
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The islet where both specimens were found is well preserved, as it is uninhabited and visited infrequently by people (Ineich 2006). However, P. bocourti faces a number of potentially serious threats, which are exacerbated by the fact that it is a small population and confined to a single, very small, low and easily-accessible island, and has a very large body size (up to 284 mm SVL). Foremost amongst these threats is habitat loss. This could happen from an accidental fire that destroys a substantial area of the island's forest, from a major cyclone that flattened the forest and/or  caused extensive coastal erosion, or even from a random event such as a tsunami. The habitat is vulnerable to degradation from invasive weeds that could change the composition and structure of the forest with unpredictable consequences. Habitat degradation could also occur from illegal timber cutting. At present the only introduced mammal on the island is the ship rat (Rattus rattus), which is presumably exerting significant predation pressure on the skinks (large lizard species are markedly more vulnerable to rodents than small ones). If other introduced predatory mammals (e.g. cats) colonize the island they could have a serious impact. The status of invasive ants on the island is unknown but given their impact on lizards elsewhere in New Caledonia it is predicted they also would have a detrimental effect. There is a very high risk of illegal collection and trafficking.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Protected in Province Nord under Code de l'environnement de la Province Nord (Délibération No. 306-2008/APN, 24 October 2008) and in Province Sud under Code de l'environnement de la Province Sud (Délibération No. 25-2009/APS, 20 March 2009). Not listed on CITES. Not present in any reserves. No specific conservation management is currently being undertaken.  This species urgently needs a management plan.  A higher level of formal protection of the island and active management for conservation is a high priority for this species.  Further research on the population and distribution of this species should be conducted to determine if it should be placed in a higher threat category. An eradication plan for rats should be implemented immediately.  Monitoring is also needed to detect whether this species is currently declining. 



Citation: Sadlier, R.A., Whitaker, A.H. & Bauer, A.M. 2010. Phoboscincus bocourti. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 20 October 2014.
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