Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Phaethontiformes Phaethontidae

Scientific Name: Phaethon lepturus
Species Authority: Daudin, 1802
Common Name(s):
English White-tailed Tropicbird
French Phaéton à queue blanche
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. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Calvert, R.
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2009 Least Concern (LC)
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)
2000 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species can be found across much of the tropical oceans, including the southern Indian Ocean, western and central Pacific, and south Atlantic Ocean. Breeding colonies are also found in the Carribean (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
Countries occurrence:
Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Australia; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bermuda; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Saba, Sint Eustatius); Brazil; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cameroon; Canada; Cayman Islands; Chile; China; Christmas Island; Cocos (Keeling) Islands; Colombia; Comoros; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Equatorial Guinea; Fiji; French Polynesia; Grenada; Guam; Guatemala; Haiti; India; Indonesia; Jamaica; Japan; Kenya; Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Marshall Islands; Martinique; Mauritius; Mayotte; Mexico; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Montserrat; Mozambique; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Philippines; Puerto Rico; Réunion; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sao Tomé and Principe; Seychelles; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Solomon Islands; South Africa; Sri Lanka; Taiwan, Province of China; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Tonga; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States (Hawaiian Is.); United States Minor Outlying Islands; Vanuatu; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.; Wallis and Futuna
Angola (Angola); Ghana; Liberia; New Zealand; Panama; Timor-Leste
Present - origin uncertain:
Benin; Côte d'Ivoire; French Guiana; Gabon; Guadeloupe; Guyana; Honduras; Nigeria; Suriname; Togo; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 80300
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing 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: The global population is estimated to number > c.50,000 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1992), while the population in Japan has been estimated at < c.50 individuals on migration (Brazil 2009).

Trend Justification:  The population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The white-tailed Tropicbird can be found over pelagic waters and the coast of tropical and subtropical seas. It feeds on small fish, especially flying-fish, squid and some crustaceans (especially crabs). Its diet varies locally, for example taking mostly fish in the Seychelles. Most prey is caught by plunge-diving but flying-fish can be taken on the wing. Breeding is seasonal in places but elsewhere can be more or less continuous. It is loosely colonial, nesting in rocky crevices or sheltered scrape on the ground on small-remote islands preferring inaccessible spots on cliffs where take-off is relatively easy. It is resident and dispersive, with both adults and juveniles wandering extensively (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
Systems: Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 11.1
Movement patterns: Full Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Phaethon lepturus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22696645A40271010. . Downloaded on 13 October 2015.
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