Artisornis moreaui 

Scope: Global

Translate page into:

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Sylviidae

Scientific Name: Artisornis moreaui
Species Authority: (W.L. Sclater, 1931)
Common Name(s):
English Long-billed Tailorbird, Long-billed Apalis
French Apalis à long bec
Apalis moreaui W.L. Sclater, 1931 [in BirdLife International (2004)]
Apalis moreaui W.L. Sclater, 1931 [in Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993)]
Orthotomus moreaui ssp. moreaui (W.L. Sclater, 1931) [in Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)]
Orthotomus moreaui ssp. moreaui (W.L. Sclater, 1931) [in Collar et al. (1994)]
Orthotomus moreaui ssp. moreaui (W.L. Sclater, 1931) [in BirdLife International (2000)]
Taxonomic Notes: Apalis moreaui is transferred to the genus Artisornis following Urban et al. (1997) and Dickinson (2003).

Identification information: 10 cm. Small, rotund warbler of forest edge and canopy gaps. Overall greyish, slightly paler below. Warm brownish tinge on face and crown (can be absent). Very long, black bill. Very rounded head, with filoplumes extending over to the back of the head. Long tail invariably cocked when excited. Similar spp. African Tailorbird O. metopias has much shorter bill and more extensive russet wash on face and breast. Voice Repeated, Apalis-like but more metallic peedoo peedoo. Hints Very secretive, extremely inconspicuous, best located by call (Baker and Baker 2001). Most reliable site is near Amani in East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Borghesio, L., Cordeiro, N., John, J. & Spottiswoode, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Bird, J., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Wright, L & Ashpole, J
While this species can now be found reliably in parts of the East Usambara plateau, Tanzania, virtually nothing is known about its recent status in northern Mozambique. Its low population density and the small area of suitable habitat indicate that its total population is extremely small. Given that much of its habitat is being altered rapidly and is becoming increasingly fragmented, the species is likely to be undergoing a continuing decline, at least in some parts of its global range. Over 90% of its very small global population has been suspected to be confined to one subpopulation (Amani Nature Reserve), and on this basis it is considered Critically Endangered, however recent research suggests that total numbers, while still small, are larger than previously thought, and that Mt Nilo holds a significant proportion of the population. If this is confirmed the species is likely to warrant downlisting.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs at low density in two widely separated forests, the East Usambaras in Tanzania (nominate subspecies) and the Njesi Plateau in northern Mozambique (subspecies sousae), where it was recently rediscovered (Ryan and Spottiswoode 2003), not having been visited since 1945 (Benson 1946). These two subpopulations are 1,000 km apart, and despite much recent fieldwork, there are still no records from any of the intervening forests (Baker and Baker 2001). In the East Usambaras it is more common than previously suggested (Cordeiro 2000), but still somewhat local and infrequent. Recent records from Mt Nilo were followed by the discovery of territories around Zirai in May 2009, and later surveys located a total of 10 territories in Nilo Nature Reserve, in the areas of Nkombola, Kweng'wiza, Kilangangua and Kiziga and northward to Lutindi (Kyonjola and Njilima 2010). The species occurs over ten broad localities near Amani (Cordeiro 1998, Baker and Baker 2001); Amani Nature Reserve was conservatively estimated to hold 150-200 individuals in 2000 (Cordeiro 2000), and surveys in 2008-2009 found around 80 territories at Amani and in the surrounding area. Further survey work has since identified further territories, including 20 in the Nilo Nature Reserve; Mt Nilo covers 43.6 km2 and may hold up to 75% of the total East Usambaras population, which has been estimated to number at least 371 individuals but these numbers have yet to be confirmed. Intensive surveys during 2014 discovered 17 more territories (Torto 2015). Only c.110 km2 of suitable habitat remains in the East Usambaras. Given that it is uncommon, elusive and exists at low densities, it may yet be found in other forests of the Eastern Arc (Baker and Baker 2001) now that the microhabitats and vocalisations are known (Cordeiro 2000, McEntree et al. 2005).

Countries occurrence:
Mozambique; Tanzania, United Republic of
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:950
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:2-5Continuing decline in number of locations:Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:NoLower elevation limit (metres):800
Upper elevation limit (metres):1250
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Cordeiro (2000) estimated 150-200 in Amani Nature Reserve. The populations on Mount Nilo and the Njesi Plateau are unknown, but may be small, so the global estimate is placed precautionarily in the band 50-249 individuals. This equates to 33-166 mature individuals, rounded here to 30-200 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  This species is suspected to be declining in parts of its range owing to strong pressures that are impacting unprotected forests in parts of the East Usambaras and Njesi Plateau, and recent disturbance within protected areas such as Amani Nature Reserve. Therefore, we employ a negative population trend overall (though this may be slight). If further research confirms that the species's global population size is stable it may warrant downlisting in the future.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:50-249Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:Yes
No. of subpopulations:2-100Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:90-94

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

In the East Usambaras, its primary habitat is forest edge and large canopy gaps (Cordeiro 2000). It has been found in submontane and montane forest (Baker and Baker 2001), chiefly in open forest edge-type habitat with a high density of vines and climbers (Cordeiro 2000, McEntree et al. 2005) such as clearings and drainage lines (Ryan et al. 1998), in addition to glades on the edge of, or deep inside forest (Cordeiro 2000, McEntree et al. 2005, Borghesio unpubl. data). It can also be found in degraded forest (Baker and Baker 2001, Kyonjola and Njilima 2010), in habitats buffering tea plantations (e.g. secondary Lantana growth and Eucalypt plantations) (Cordeiro 2000, Borghesio unpubl. data), but never far from indigenous forest, as none of >80 currently known territories is more than 100 m from forest edge (Borghesio unpubl. data). However forest areas consistently disturbed by humans, such as agricultural fields that are burned or weeded regularly, are clearly not favoured (Cordeiro 2000). 

Its preference for early successional habitats may mean it is dependent on some form of recurrent disturbance to create forest gaps (Borghesio et al. 2008). It is often absent from large areas of apparently suitable habitat. It forages alone but can sometimes be found in mixed-species parties in the lower and middle storeys (up to 18 m) (Cordeiro 2000, Borghesio unpublished data), preferring the tangled vegetation nearer the ground where it searches foliage for invertebrates (Cordeiro 1998) avoiding sunlit places (Urban et al. 1997, McEntree et al. 2005). It is apparently territorial; one probable male colour-ringed in 2000 has maintained the same territory at the headquarters of Amani Nature Reserve up to 2007 (Cordeiro unpubl. data). Its breeding ecology remains poorly known (Urban et al. 1997). In an initial population assessment, 26% of records were of pairs (Cordeiro 2000). A. m. sousae has been confirmed to inhabit the forest canopy (Benson 1946, Ryan and Spottiswoode 2003).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):3.6
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Despite favouring some open forest-edge habitats, it remains vulnerable to forest destruction, especially as it may not cross open spaces easily (Urban et al. 1997). Although the extent of protected forest in the East Usambaras has recently been increased, there is heavy pressure on most unprotected forest, especially for mining, pole-cutting, cultivation and firewood-collection (Evans 1997b, Kessy 1998, Doggart et al. 2004). As this forest becomes depleted, pressure on smaller forest reserves is likely to increase (Evans 1997b, Kessy 1998). In addition, the harvesting of plants for medicinal purposes may cause some disturbance, clearance of vegetation along powerlines has resulted in the loss of some territories. Introduced species, such as the tree Maesopsis eminii, appear to reduce habitat suitability (Kyonjola and Njilima 2010). Nothing is known of the recent status of this species in forests in northern Mozambique. Having a montane distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change (BirdLife International unpublished data).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation and Research Actions Underway
Two current projects in the East Usambaras are working to increase the amount of forest, including all lowland remnants, in protected areas. In particular the Amani Nature Reserve has an active conservation programme which attempts to engage with local stakeholders such as plantation owners (Cordeiro 2000). In 2009, a stakeholder's awareness meeting was held at Amani Nature Reserve, which involved village leaders, tea companies, private landowners, the energy sector, government institutions and non-governmental organisations, amongst others, and garnered substantial support for the species's conservation and recognition of the zonation of the reserve (Kyonjola and Njilima 2010). A population monitoring programme of this species by the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania and The Field Museum has begun. A Darwin Initiative funded project run by the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust and working in the mountains of northern Mozambique may visit the Njesi plateau in the future.

As part of the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions programme the following actions are underway: 1. Extensive surveys have been carried out in the Amani Nature Reserve and its immediate vicinity, and have been extended towards the eastern and northern parts of the East Usambaras to cover the Derema Corridor as well as the Ngua and Ndola areas. Each known territory of the Long-billed Tailorbird is being monitored every two months. 2. Implementation of an education and awareness scheme for local landowners and other key stakeholders is in progress. Educational materials including posters and leaflets have been designed in both English and Swahili. 3. Work is currently underway to identify key conservation areas for the Long-billed Tailorbird and incorporate these as part of the Amani Nature Reserve Management Plan. All territories discovered are logged by GPS and their coordinates plotted, and territory marking is taking place in areas with high densities. In 2010, work planned for the future included the removal of juvenile Maesopsis and replanting with native gap-dependent species, and the introduction of more efficient wood stoves that reduce the need for tree-cutting and firewood removal (Kyonjola and Njilima 2010). Research is also being undertaken to study whether habitat management will encourage the species to colonize new areas. The BirdLife International project office in Tanzania are working on a collaborative project with the RSPB to conserve endemic and threatened biodiversity in the East Usambaras, focusing on this species. The first action was to collect data on the species's distribution and create a high resolution distribution map indicating where levels of disturbance are likely to be greatest (Torto 2015).

Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Revisit the Njesi Plateau and nearby areas to assess its status and population size. Search for the species at Monte Sanga, the areas between Monte Gatala and Chiconono, the Lupilichi Highlands and the Serra Juzagombe (Ryan and Spottiswoode 2003). Evaluate the effectiveness of selected forest-management techniques that could benefit this species (Baker and Baker 2001, Cordeiro 2000). Engage stakeholders on the Amani Plateau in forest management and raise awareness of this species's status. Consider methods to reduce disturbance in and around tea plantations (Cordeiro 2000). Conduct ecological surveys to understand why it is apparently so rare and thinly distributed (Baker and Baker 2001). Test techniques to control the expansion of Maesopsis eminii in indigenous forest and to restore heavily invaded forest tracts (L. Borghesio in litt. 2012). Sensitize local farmers to conserve patches of bushy and regenerating vegetation in farms located along forest edges in Amani, Derema and Nilo.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2015. Artisornis moreaui. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22714958A78455639. . Downloaded on 26 August 2016.
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