Alopecoenas sanctaecrucis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Columbiformes Columbidae

Scientific Name: Alopecoenas sanctaecrucis (Mayr, 1935)
Common Name(s):
English Santa Cruz Ground-dove, Santa Cruz Ground Dove, Santa Cruz Ground-Dove
Gallicolumba sanctaecrucis Mayr, 1935
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: Alopecoenas sanctaecrucis (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Gallicolumba.
Identification information: 23 cm. Small, plump, terrestrial dove. Males have brown upperparts with purple iridescence on wing, grey head and pale pink throat and breast patch. Females are paler with browner throat and breast, and green-glossed upperparts. Immatures are uniformly brown, sometimes with purple on wing. Similar spp. Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica has green on upperparts, two pale bars on lower mantle and red bill. Voice Slowly accelerating series of up to 15 low woop notes. Hints Usually runs when disturbed, occasionally flushes but best located when calling.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Diamond, J., Dutson, G., Gibbs, D., Maturin, S., O'Brien, M., Totterman, S., Filardi, C. & Pierce, R.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., Stattersfield, A., North, A.
This ground-dove remains extremely poorly known. It is classified as Endangered based on a precautionary assumption that its population is very small, being known from only two recent locations, and suspected to be declining owing to various threats, including predation by introduced mammals.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Alopecoenas sanctaecrucis is currently known for certain only from Tinakula in Temotu province (= Santa Cruz Islands), Solomon Islands, and Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu (Bregulla 1992, D. Gibbs in litt 1999, Pierce 2014). It still occurs on Tinakula (8 km2) which is currently free of rats, cats and feral pigs and only seasonally inhabited, but it has yellow crazy ants (Anaplolepis gracilipes) (Pierce 2014). It is probably extinct on Utupua (69 km2), but during a brief visit in 1994, none were seen and the villagers of Nembao had no knowledge of it (D. Gibbs in litt 1999). It survives on Santo (3,955 km2) which has extensive forest - recent sightings are of some birds seen in 1972, one in 1985, two sightings of one to two birds at 300-400 m in 2006 (Barré et al. 2011) and three heard on Peak Santo in 2008 and one heard on Peak Santo in 2009 (G. Dutson in litt. 2009). Unconfirmed recent incidental sightings of the species on Santo have been reported at two sites in the mountains of west Santo (S. Totterman in litt. 2010), in Vatthe Conservation Area in the north side of the island (S. Maturin to M. O'Brien in litt. 2010) and on the high mountain ranges of Penoru village of north western Santo (in early 2009 [D. Kalfatak in litt. 2012]); however it was not recorded during a recent study of bird communities on Santo (Bregulla 1992, Kratter et al. 2006) or on a 2010 visit to the area (C. Filardi in litt. 2012). Historically, it probably occurred on more islands (D. Gibbs in litt 1999), such as Vanikoro and the Reef Islands (but no evidence of it during weeks of fieldwork in 1997 and 2014 [G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998, R. Pierce pers. obs 2014]), the Duff Islands, Nendo (where there are sight records from the Whitney expedition in the 1930s [J. Diamond in litt. 1999], it is now probably extirpated [G. Dutson in litt. 2007]) and the Banks and Torres islands of northern Vanuatu (which are both poorly known [G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998]).

Countries occurrence:
Solomon Islands; Vanuatu
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:1700
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:2Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):300
Upper elevation limit (metres):1000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Encounter rates on Tinakula, which has very limited forest, were 1.1 per hour (Pierce 2014) but it is much less common in Espiritu Santo (Dutson 2011). The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  There are no new data on population trends; however, the species is suspected to have declined at a moderate rate over the last ten years, owing to habitat loss and hunting.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:600-1700Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:2Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is believed to forage exclusively on the ground but often perches on low branches and roosts in trees. On Espiritu Santo, it inhabits old-growth rainforest and patches of remnant forest isolated by agricultural land at 300-1,000 m (Bregulla 1992, S. Maturin in litt. 1994, Barré et al. 2011, Dutson 2011). On Tinakula, it inhabits patches of old growth forest and regenerating forest recovering from the volcanic eruption of 1971, at 60-260 m (Pierce 2014).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):6.6
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Introduced rats, cats, dogs and pigs are found throughout Utupua and Santo. Tinakula is free of rats and cats but has yellow crazy ants (Pierce 2014). People frequently visit to hunt ground-doves, chickens (Gallus gallus), Chalcophaps indica and fruit bats, as well as gathering fruits, felling trees for canoes, and rear piglets brought from the mainland (R. Pierce in litt. 2016). Cyclones and volcanic eruptions are a risk, particularly on Tinakula where the remaining population is small but significant. There are small eruptions there daily but these do not significantly impact the forest which has recovered since a large eruption occurred in 1971. Forest has been and is being extensively cleared and degraded on Utupua and Santo although, on Santo, much of the land is too steep for commercial logging and there are few hill villages and gardens above c.500 m. A recently identified threat in Vatthe Conservation Area is the establishment of the invasive vine Merremia peltata, which causes the death of large numbers of canopy trees. Approximately 2,300ha (92%) of Vatthe forest has been affected, some 1,300 ha of which are beyond the ability to control and need to be replanted (Maturin 2012). It may also be hunted, and may be outcompeted by the common Chalcophaps indica in degraded forest habitats (Bregulla 1992, S. Maturin in litt. 1994, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998, D. Gibbs in litt 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Two lowland forests have recently been protected on Santo but the species has not been found in either. Forest and Bird and EcoLifelihood Development Associates (funded by UNDP/GEF/SGP) are managing a newly established project to develop landowner capacity to control the invasive Merremia peltata in Vatthe Conservation Area. In 2014 surveys funded by CEPF revealed a significant population on Tinakula and further efforts are currently underway. These include strengthening biosecurity to reduce the chances of rat and cat introduction, and researching biology and impacts including the effects of Anaplolepis ants on population recruitment (R. Pierce in litt. 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Prepare a species action plan. Strengthen biosecurity at Tinakula and any other known sites. Research impacts of invasive ants and hunting. Search for predator-free islands within the species's range. Survey Santo to ascertain its distribution, altitudinal range, habitat requirements and abundance. Determine population levels of introduced mammals around current sites on Santo. Assess hunting levels and population trends based on discussions with Santo hunters. Advocate creation of more forest reserves on Santo and develop a structured captive breeding programme.  Investigate hunting control measures through community discussion and awareness programmes.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Alopecoenas sanctaecrucis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22691047A93301186. . Downloaded on 22 July 2018.
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