Aerodramus elaphrus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Caprimulgiformes Apodidae

Scientific Name: Aerodramus elaphrus (Oberholser, 1906)
Common Name(s):
English Seychelles Swiftlet
French Salangane des Seychelles
Collocalia elaphra Oberholser, 1906
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Taxonomic Notes: Aerodramus elaphrus (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Collocalia as C. elaphra.
Identification information: 10-12 cm. Small, dark swift. Greyish-brown all over, but a little paler below. Similar spp. Vagrant Little Swift Apus affinis is dark brown with a white rump. Voice Soft twittering (flying groups), metallic clicking (within caves).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Lucking, R., Parr, S., Rocamora, G., Skerrett, A., Bibi, S. & Jacques, D.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Khwaja, N., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Warren, B., Westrip, J.
The species is classified as Vulnerable because it has a very small range: it nests at just three known sites, with possibly over 95% of all known breeding birds concentrated at one cave. Overall population trends are unclear, but suspected to be stable in the absence of any clear increase or decline. If contraction of its breeding range continues, or populations are shown to be undergoing a continuous decline owing to a decrease in the number of nest-caves, perhaps compounded by continuing decline in extent and quality of marshy feeding areas, it should be uplisted to Endangered.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to the Seychelles and ranges over the islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, with one known breeding site on each island. A colony on Félicité has disappeared, as has one on Mahé (Watson 1984). The La Digue cave held 80 nests in 2009 (D. Jacques and S. Bibi, Dept. of Environment via A. Skerrett 2016), but as numbers have fluctuated in the past (45 in 1977 [MacDonald 1978], 80 in 1980s [Watson 1984], 35-45 in 1996-1997 [Rocamora 1997] and 56 in 2001 [Remie and Joubert 2001]) the population trend is unclear at this site. In the Praslin colony, 56 nests and 152 birds were estimated in 1977 (MacDonald 1978), with c.55-80 nests from 1980 (Rocamora 1997, Watson 1984, Remie and Joubert 2001). Studies in 1996-1997 estimated the total population at 2,500-3,000 individuals (Rocamora 1997).

Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:1300
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:2-5Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Studies in 1996-1997 estimated the total population at 2,500-3,000 individuals, roughly equivalent to 1,700-2,000 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:1700-2000Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:3Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:95-99

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is an aerial, insectivorous species, and feeds over a variety of habitats including forest and wetlands. Flying ants form the majority of prey caught (MacDonald 1978). On Praslin and Mahé, it is most commonly seen flying over boulder-filled valleys or rocky slopes in the hills, usually in small flocks (MacDonald 1978), or in lowland areas (A. Skerrett in litt. 2016). It nests colonially on the roofs of deep caves, laying a single egg (MacDonald 1978). There is increasing evidence that it breeds year-round (G. Rocamora in litt. 1999).

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):5
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The past decline of this species may have been due to the widespread use of insecticides such as DDT, perhaps the collection of nests for bird-nest soup, and the ongoing drainage of wetlands (Shah 1997) for housing and tourist developments in coastal and lowland areas, although this may not have a direct effect as the species feeds mainly elsewhere (G. Rocamora in litt. 2007). In the future, development encroachment could impact upon nest-caves and buffer areas (S. Parr in litt. 1999). Quarrying may be a threat, and led to the destruction of a Praslin nest-cave in the 1970s (G. Rocamora in litt. 1999, A. Skerrett in litt. 1999). Barn Owls Tyto alba are likely predators of this species (Rocamora 1997), and can limit the number of potential nest-sites by direct disturbance or occupation (A. Skerrett in litt. 1999). Cats may be a threat where nests are accessible to them (Rocamora 1997, A. Skerrett in litt. 1999). Marshes on La Digue have been invaded by introduced plant species and it has been suggested that this has affected invertebrates dependent on the marsh ecosystem (Rocamora 1997), reducing the food supply for the species (Gerlach 1996), although this is unproven. In 2015, there were incidents in which tourists paid locals on La Digue to take them to the nesting cave to harvest nests (A. Skerrett in litt. 2016).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Cave sites on Praslin and La Digue are monitored by Ministry of Environment rangers (S. Parr in litt. 1999, G. Rocamora in litt. 2007). Programmes for the control of invasive wetland plants are ongoing (G. Rocamora in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue regular monitoring of cave sites (Rocamora 1997, R. Lucking in litt. 1999). Create protected areas to encompass all known nest-caves and buffer areas and assign legal protection status (Rocamora 1997). Control cats and Barn Owls in the vicinity of colonies (Rocamora 1997); in the past fencing off cave entrances has been proposed (Collar and Stuart 1985). Conserve rich feeding grounds, such as marshes, by eradication of invasive, introduced aquatic plants (Rocamora 1997a, G. Rocamora in litt. 1999).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Aerodramus elaphrus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22686507A93115060. . Downloaded on 22 July 2018.
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