Hemignathus lucidus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Hemignathus lucidus
Species Authority: Lichtenstein, 1839
Common Name(s):
English Nukupuu, Nukupu'u

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered D ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A. & Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Baker, H., Baker, P., Camp, R., Fretz, S., Gorresen, M., VanderWerf, E., Woodworth, B. & Morin, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Isherwood, I., Khwaja, N., Stattersfield, A., Stuart, T., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Derhé, M.
The last confirmed sightings of this species were in 1995-1996 at Hanawi on Maui, with none since then despite extensive effort in a large proportion of the historic range. However, it cannot yet be presumed to be Extinct until further surveys have confirmed that there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. Any remaining population is likely to be tiny, and for these reasons it is treated as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct).

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Hemignathus lucidus is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, U.S.A. The nominate subspecies, of O'ahu, went extinct in the mid-late 1800s. On Kaua'i, the subspecies hanapepe probably became confined to the Alaka'i Wilderness Preserve (Scott et al. 1986, Conant et al. 1998)where it was apparently recorded a few times in 1984-1998, although at least some, if not all, of these sightings appear to refer to H. kauaiensis (P. Baker in litt. 1999, Pratt and Pyle 1999, Pratt and Pyle 2000). Recent surveys on Kaua'i have failed to find it, and it seems likely to be extinct (Reynolds and Snetsinger 2001, R. Camp in litt. 2003). On Maui, the subspecies affinis was found on the eastern and north-eastern slopes of Haleakala, where there were several unconfirmed detections in 1986-1998, although a single male seen in 1995 (seen by more than one qualified observer and backed up by detailed field notes [Pratt and Pyle 1999]) in the same place as a report from 1994 provided strong evidence of its persistence (Reynolds et al. 1995, P. Baker in litt. 1999, Pratt and Pyle 1999). There have been no other confirmed sightings since then despite extensive effort in a large proportion of the historic range, including annual surveys by the National Park Service (NPS), two State sanctioned surveys, monthly surveys in Hanawi, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) surveys and efforts by the Maui Forest Bird Recovery team. Although not all of these programmes surveyed locations where the species was last observed, many surveyed highly likely locations (Pratt and Pyle 2000, R. Camp in litt. 2003). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (in review) concluded that in all probability this subspecies, and indeed the species, is extinct or functionally extinct. In addition, a recent statistical analysis of physical evidence and independent expert opinion, as part of a study into the burden of proof required for controversial sightings of possibly extinct species, concluded that this species has probably been extinct since the early 20th century; however, when controversial sightings are included in the analysis, the species's extinction is estimated to have occurred since the late 1990s (Roberts et al. 2009). This discrepancy occurs because some authors regard all sightings since 1900 as unconfirmed and thus controversial (Pratt and Pyle 2000, Roberts et al. 2009). The species, however, should not be reclassified as Extinct until further surveys have eliminated any reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. If any population remains, it is likely to be tiny.

Possibly extinct:
United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Any remaining population is assumed to be tiny (numbering fewer than 50 individuals and mature individuals), with no confirmed records since 1996, despite surveys.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It inhabits dense, wet `ohi`a forest and the higher parts of mesic koa-`ohi`a forest (Scott et al. 1986, Pratt et al. 1987). On Maui, all recent sightings were between 1,450 and 2,000 m, mostly at the lower end of that range (Scott et al. 1986). On Kaua`i, the Koai`e Valley (where it was seen in 1995 [Conant et al. 1998, Pratt and Pyle 1999]) is at 1,000-1,300 m (Pratt 1994). It feeds on wood-borers, spiders and beetles (Scott et al. 1986, Pratt et al. 1987, Conant et al. 1998, Reynolds et al. 1995).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The lower-elevation koa forests (possibly the species's key habitat) have been nearly eliminated by cattle-ranching (Reynolds et al. 1995). Remaining higher-altitude forests are degraded by introduced ungulates (USFWS 1983, Scott et al. 1986, Loope and Medeiros 1995, Reynolds et al. 1995). Feral pigs facilitate the spread of alien plants and introduced disease-carrying mosquitoes (Pratt 1994, Loope and Medeiros 1995). On Kaua`i, all bird populations appeared to have been drastically reduced after Hurricane Iniki in 1992 (Pratt 1994), although some have since recovered. It has been extirpated from the koa-`ohi`a forests of Koke`e, suggesting that it is sensitive to perturbation. Other suggested limiting factors include predation and competition from exotic bird and insect species (P. Baker in litt. 1999, Wakelee et al. in prep.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
On Maui, fencing and feral pig eradication has been completed in a c.650 ha area where the male was recorded in 1994 (Simon et al. 1997, P. Baker in litt. 1999). In Waikamoi Preserve, Hanawi Natural Area Reserve and Haleakala National Park, efforts have been made to combat the establishment of alien plants (Loope and Medeiros 1995, Simon et al. 1997). On Kaua`i, the Koai`e Stream area has been intensively managed to conserve Puaiohi Myadestes palmeri, and may have helped any H. lucidus that remain in the area (Conant et al. 1998, Wakelee et al. in prep.).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to locate any remaining populations. If any birds are found, attempt to increase the population by captive propagation (Scott et al. 1986). Research competition from exotic bird and insect species (M. Morin in litt. 2000).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Hemignathus lucidus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 25 July 2014.
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