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Hyliota usambara

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES PASSERIFORMES SYLVIIDAE

Scientific Name: Hyliota usambara
Species Authority: Sclater, 1932
Common Name(s):
English Usambara Hyliota
Taxonomic Notes: Hyliota australis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into H. australis and H. usambara following Erard et al. (1997), largely on the basis of it sexual monomorphism in H. usambara (actually a mistaken judgement). However, examination of museum material indicates that, compared with australis, usambarae is considerably smaller, with wholly (vs partly) black thighs, female upperparts steely blue-black (vs dull sooty-black), female underparts, lores, frons and ear-coverts rich tawny (vs pale creamy-yellow below, with lores, frons and ear-coverts concolorous with rest of upperparts). These differences are sufficient for usambarae to achieve species status.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(i,ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Taylor, J.
Contributor(s): Cordeiro, N., Hansen, L. & Stuart, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., Evans, M., Mahood, S., Shutes, S., Starkey, M. & Symes, A.
Justification:
While there are still relatively few records of this species, it clearly has a very small and fragmented area of occupancy, within which it is rare. It appears largely restricted to lowland and foothill forest which is disappearing fast, and it is probably sensitive to alteration of its forest habitat. It is therefore considered Endangered.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Hyliota usambara is a little known and probably overlooked species of north-east Tanzania (Cambridge-Tanzania Rainforest Project 1994, Urban et al. 1997, Evans 1997b, Seddon et al. 1999b) recorded mainly from the foothills of the East Usambara Mountains, where it appears to be uncommon, and from a single sighting at Dindira in the West Usambaras (Urban et al. 1997, S. Stuart in litt. 2003) at 1,000 m. There is one other reference to a specimen taken between 1904 and 1907 along the Ruvu river, although this is now thought to refer to H. flavigaster (Sclater and Moreau 1933, Urban et al. 1997, L. Hansen in litt. 2006) but at present insufficient information is available to determine the exact localities or altitudes referred to. Given that there is only c.370 km2 of forest remaining in its stronghold of the East Usambaras, and that the species apparently occurs very patchily within forest, preferring the lowlands, both its Area of Occupancy and total population are probably very small.

Countries:
Native:
Tanzania, United Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 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 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The species inhabits forest canopy, forest edge and coffee plantations at mid-altitudes (Urban et al. 1997). It is flycatcher-like in habits, flycatching and gleaning inconspicuously in the crowns of the tallest trees, often in trees bare of leaves, keeping to small branches and twigs and feeding on insects (Evans 1997b). It is found alone, in pairs or in mixed-species flocks (Cambridge-Tanzania Rainforest Project 1994). Its breeding ecology is unknown (Urban et al. 1997). Although recorded in plantations, it is probably dependent on mature forest for successful breeding. Given that it appears to be associated with the canopy of mature trees, it may well be highly sensitive to habitat alteration (Seddon et al. 1999b).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threats to forest in the East Usambaras are pit-sawing (outside reserves), and cultivation and pole-cutting (within reserves) (Evans 1997b, Kessy 1998). All are likely to increase in the near future (Seddon et al. 1999a). Lowland and foothill forest faces much greater and more immediate threats than the comparatively safe submontane and montane forest of the Usambaras.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Two current projects in the East Usambaras are working to increase the amount of forest, including all lowland remnants, in protected areas. However, the high population density and demand for land and timber in the area makes this difficult (Kessy 1998).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Further investigate the validity of this taxon (should include surveys using canopy mist-netting at Kisiwani) (Evans 1997b). Investigate the species's habitat and altitudinal preferences. Study the species's tolerance to habitat alteration. Survey its population density. Improve the protection of reserves to prevent forest degradation within their borders. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status.


Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Hyliota usambara. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 September 2014.
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