Aplonis santovestris


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Aplonis santovestris
Species Authority: Harrisson & Marshall, 1937
Common Name(s):
English Santo Starling, Mountain Starling, Vanuatu Starling

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.

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).

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.
Population Trend: Decreasing

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

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. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided