Melidectes princeps 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Meliphagidae

Scientific Name: Melidectes princeps Mayr & Gilliard, 1951
Common Name(s):
English Long-bearded Honeyeater, Long-bearded Melidectes
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A., Fishpool, L.D.C., Boesman, P. and Kirwan, G.M. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Identification information: 27 cm Large, dark honeyeater with wispy white beard reaching bend of wing. Uniformly sooty-grey plumage with paler fringes. Long, black slender bill. Rich orange bare skin patch behind eye. Similar spp. Sooty Honeyeater M. fuscus has shorter bill and lacks beard. Belford's Honeyeater M. belfordi (and Yellow-browed Honeyeater M. rufocrissalis at lower altitudes) have shorter white throat-stripes, blue facial skin and shorter bills. Extralimital Short-bearded Honeyeater M. nouhuysi has shorter bill and beard. Voice Unrecorded. Hints Walk up Mt Wilhelm from Kegsugl and search above the treeline.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(ii,iii,v); C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Beehler, B., Diamond, J. & Whitney, B.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A., North, A.
This species qualifies as Vulnerable owing to an inferred continuing decline in its small, fragmented range and population size. It is restricted to high altitudes and is at risk from the effects of climate change. Should the population be found to be stable, or larger than currently thought, it would warrant downlisting to a lower threat category.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Melidectes princeps has a restricted range in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. It is known only from Mt Giluwe, Minj R, Mt Hagen, the Kubor Range, Mt Wilhelm, Mt Michael and in the Mt Kaijende Highlands of Enga Province, 70 km north west of Mt Hagen, although it presumably ranges west to the Strickland River gorge (B. Beehler in litt. 2007, Beehler and Pratt 2016). It is reported to be fairly common within this range (Mayr and Gilliard 1954, Beehler et al. 1986, Coates 1990, B. Beehler in litt. 2007) but there are no published indications of numbers or population trends.

Countries occurrence:
Papua New Guinea
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:28900
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:6-10Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):3000
Upper elevation limit (metres):3800
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The population is poorly-known but 11 individuals were counted (along with 70 Sooty Melidectes Melidectes fuscus) on 12 censuses in the Kaijende Highlands (Beehler and Sine 2007). The population is precautionarily estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, with possibly no more than 1000 in any subpopulation, based on the small number of individuals recorded across its restricted geographical range.

Trend Justification:  There are no data on population trends and its high-altitude locations are largely safe from direct impacts. However, the species is thought to be slowly declining because of habitat degradation at some of its more accessible locations close to centres of human population such as Mt Hagen.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:2500-9999Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:2-100Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It has been recorded from shrublands, mossy forest and copses near the treeline and in scrubby forest clumps in alpine grassland (Pratt and Beehler 2015, Beehler and Pratt 2016), mostly between 3,000-3,800 m, but down to 2,750 m in the Kubor Range (Beehler et al. 1986, Coates 1990). It is probably excluded from adjacent mountain ranges by congeners (Diamond 1972, Beehler et al. 1986). Nests have been found in June and July, the late wet season and early dry season (Coates 1990). Congeneric honeyeaters are noisy, pugnacious birds of the forest canopy, feeding in pairs or small groups on nectar, insects and some fruit.

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):5.8
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is believed to be threatened by habitat degradation (J. M. Diamond in litt. 1987, B. Beehler in litt. 1994), but because it is an edge specialist it may conversely be unaffected (B. Beehler in litt. 2007). This region of the Highlands has a dense human population and although cultivation stops below this species's altitudinal range, there may be some habitat degradation from fires, usually started in the dry-season by hunters (B. Beehler in litt. 2000, B. Whitney in litt. 2000). The main potential future threat is climate change, as this is one of New Guinea's high elevation specialists, and may lose its subalpine habitat with climate change (B. Beehler in litt. 2007); however, the species may move upwards in response to habitat shifts (Beehler and Sine 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey all forest blocks at suitable altitude. Extend surveys to mountains immediately outside recorded range. Estimate population densities. Ascertain population structure across isolated forest blocks. Establish rate and trends of forest degradation. Investigate whether any occupied locations are threatened by agriculture. Research tolerance of burnt forest. Establish public awareness projects addressing basic forest conservation.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Melidectes princeps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22704264A93960454. . Downloaded on 16 October 2018.
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