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Pterodroma madeira

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES PROCELLARIIFORMES PROCELLARIIDAE

Scientific Name: Pterodroma madeira
Species Authority: Mathews, 1934
Common Name(s):
English Zino's Petrel, Freira, Madeira Petrel
French Pétrel de Madère

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A. & Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Menezes, D., Oliveira, P., Ramírez, I. & Ratcliffe, N.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Calvert, R., Capper, D., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M., Peet, N. & Pople, R.
Justification:
This species qualifies as Endangered because it has an extremely small population breeding on six cliff ledges in the central mountain massif of Madeira. A fire at the breeding colony in 2010 decimated fledgling numbers, although the long-term effects on the population size and trend are as yet unknown. Should new studies reveal the population to be decreasing, the species's status would warrant revising.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Pterodroma madeira has an estimated breeding population of 65-80 pairs (Menezes et al. 2005), in the central mountain massif of Madeira, Portugal, though subfossil remains elsewhere in Madeira and on the neighbouring island of Porto Santo (Zino et al. 2001) suggest that it was formerly more widespread. Currently, birds are only known to breed on six inaccessible ledges - with 53 of the 63 nests surveyed during the 2006 breeding season found to be active - although ongoing surveys may yet reveal more breeding sites (D. Menezes and P. Oliveira in litt. 2007). A massive forest fire in August 2010 at the species's breeding colony killed several breeding adults and 65% of the year’s chicks. 25 young and 3 adults were found dead at the colony, and only 13 young fledglings were found alive in their underground chambers (P. Oliveira in litt. 2010). As well as the dead birds, the fire exacerbated soil erosion, with several nesting burrows having disappeared. Subsequently, as a result of the ground being barren, making food for predators scarce and the petrel chicks more vulnerable, of the 13 birds originally found alive, only one survived to fledging (BirdLife International 2012). In 2011, 45 nests were found to be occupied with eggs laid in 43 of them. A total of 19 nestlings hatched and 16 chicks fledged (BirdLife International 2012), however, the impact of the fires on the breeding population size is not yet known as the effects of the fire will likely be felt in subsequent years. Little is known about the species's range outside the breeding season.
Countries:
Native:
Portugal
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 130-160 individuals, roughly equating to 90-110 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It breeds in burrows on well-vegetated ledges at c.1,600 m. Birds return to their breeding grounds in late March or early April. A single egg is laid mid-May to early June, and young fledge in late September or early October. Breeding success has apparently improved since the 1980s, with a total of 29 chicks fledged in 2004 (Menezes 2004). Its diet probably consists of small squid and fish.

Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Following the removal of all livestock from the breeding areas, the ecosystem had been recovering well prior to the 2010 fire, although breeding only occurs on ledges that were never accessible to grazing animals (D. Menezes and P. Oliveira in litt. 2007). The fire in 2010 (see Zino and Biscoito 2011) highlights the vulnerability of the species to such events, since it breeds on only six ledges at one location. As well as having a catastrophic impact on the survival of the year's fledglings and some adults, fires also increase soil erosion and make the habitat more barren, making the chicks more vulnerable to predation (P. Oliveira in litt. 2010). Currently, the main threats are predation of eggs and chicks by introduced black rats Rattus rattus and of nesting adults by feral cats Felis catus. The increasing number of visitors at night may also cause disturbance to breeding birds, although this is being carefully monitored by the relevant authorities (D. Menezes and P. Oliveira in litt. 2007). The sole remaining breeding site is threatened by the construction of a NATO radar station on the summit of Mt Areeiro which began in November 2009. Although an Environmental Impact Assessment has been conducted to minimise the threat to the species, is it still feared that the construction and presence of the station will have a negative impact (Barov and Derhé 2011). The species is also potentially threatened by climate change because it has a geographically bounded distribution: its altitudinal distribution falls entirely within 1,000 m of the highest mountain top within its range (1,861 m) (BirdLife International unpublished data). Shepherds formerly collected juveniles for food, and egg-collectors have raided nest-burrows in the past.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The species is protected under Portuguese law. The breeding sites have been designated a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU's Wild Birds Directive and lie within the Parque Natural da Madeira. A European action plan was published in 1996 and its implementation reviewed in 2010 (Barov and Derhé 2011). Successful predator control and research has been carried out since 1986 by the Freira Conservation Project and the Parque Natural da Madeira, which has led to increases in the productivity of this species (Zino et al. 2001, Carlile et al. 2003). This programme was expanded in 2001 with additional funding provided by a multidisciplinary European Union LIFE project, which also enabled the purchase of c.300 ha of land around the main breeding site (Menezes and Oliveira 2003, Unwin 2004). A project on the identification of marine IBAs in Portugal may allow the species to be studied at sea (I. Ramirez in litt. 2005). Over 2007-2010, dataloggers were attached to 14 breeding birds to determine the distribution of the birds at sea and seasonal changes in distribution from the breeding to non-breeding season (Zino et al. 2011). The Parque Natural da Madeira and SPEA have been monitoring the colony intensively since the 2010 fire and have developed an action plan for the breeding colony which includes immediate emergency measures to mitigate the consequences of the fire along with more long-term activities. As part of the emergency measures following the fires, anti-erosion coconut mesh was installed on the breeding ledges to protect the soil in some of the most critical places and c.100 natural nests were restored, while 60 new artificial nests were built. A protective cordon was also built around the known breeding areas, with cat traps and bait boxes (BirdLife International 2012, D. Menezes in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Investigate novel methods of cat predator control and continue control of rats. Exclude grazing stock from potential breeding areas. Continue research to determine the species's population status and distribution, such as searching for new breeding ledges. Monitor the known breeding population. Establish a management plan for the Parque Natural da Madeira. Control human access and disturbance to breeding sites. Assess the potential impact of the proposed radar station. Assess the impact of the 2010 fires on the species population size and trends.


Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Pterodroma madeira. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 November 2014.
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