Aplonis santovestris 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Sturnidae

Scientific Name: Aplonis santovestris
Species Authority: Harrisson & Marshall, 1937
Common Name(s):
English Santo Starling, Mountain Starling, Vanuatu Starling
Identification information: 17 cm. Small, rather dumpy, warm-brown forest starling. Adults rich rusty-brown, slightly darker on upperparts and blackish on crown, with white iris. Juveniles undescribed. Similar spp. Rusty-winged Starling A. zelandicus has dark iris, dark mask and is greyish with rusty-brown restricted to wings and rump. Voice Simple, high-pitched, cheeping contact call. Hints Unobtrusive species, which has been seen on only a few expeditions to the highest altitudes.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D1+2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A. & Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Barré, N., Dutson, G., Maturin, S. & Totterman, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A.
This species is classified as Vulnerable on the basis of an estimated very small population which is known from very few locations. If its population is judged to be smaller or in decline owing to the effects of hunting and/or introduced species, it would warrant uplisting to a higher threat category.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2009 Vulnerable (VU)
2008 Vulnerable (VU)
2004 Vulnerable (VU)
2000 Vulnerable (VU)
1996 Vulnerable (VU)
1994 Vulnerable (VU)
1988 Threatened (T)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Aplonis santovestris is endemic to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. It has been recorded from three of the highest mountains, Mt Watiamasan, Mt Tabwemasana and Peak Santo, in 1934, 1961, and 1991 (Harrison and Marshall 1937, Reside 1991, Bregulla 1992). Local villagers have reported it to be widespread in the western mountain ranges (S. Maturin in litt. 1994). No more than one pair has ever been seen and several observers have trekked to these altitudes and failed to find the species, an expedition in 2006 failed to find the species on Mt Tabwemasana, although their party did not include an ornithologist (S. Totterman in litt. 2007). Although some local villagers report the species to be common, it appears to occur at low population densities and to be very localised (Harrison and Marshall 1937, Reside 1991, Bregulla 1992, S. Maturin in litt. 1994).

Countries occurrence:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 60
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 2-5
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Lower elevation limit (metres): 1200
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1900
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature 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 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend Justification:  The few records of this species mean it is not possible to detect a population trend.

Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 250-999 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
No. of subpopulations: 1 Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation: 100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It forages in singles and pairs in the understorey of cloud-forest above 1,200 m on the highest peaks. It is rarely recorded more than 6 m above the ground and is reported to nest in holes low down in trees (Harrison and Marshall 1937, Reside 1991, Bregulla 1992).

Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 4.1
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The Man Hill people at Matantas Big Bay report regularly eating this species (S. Maturin in litt. 1994), however they rarely visit high altitudes and the validity of this report has been questioned (S. Totterman in litt. 2007). Overall, the number of people living at high altitudes on Santo has decreased through the last few decades (Pickering 1985, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998). Forest on Santo remains largely intact, and has only partially been altered by clearings for pastures and coconut plantations (N. Barré in litt. 2008). A number of other montane starling species from the Pacific have become extinct, presumably through the introduction of predatory mammals or disease (Pratt et al. 1987). Santo has no native land mammals but cats, dogs and rats are now widespread.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey other mountains in the vicinity. Re-survey the three known locations - local reports that the species is widespread and common in suitable habitat need to be confirmed. Colour-ring birds at these sites to help assess population sizes and longevity. Survey all montane sites for introduced mammalian predators. Discuss the species's status and distribution with local villagers.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Aplonis santovestris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22710485A39662608. . Downloaded on 01 December 2015.
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