Loxops coccineus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Loxops coccineus
Species Authority: (Gmelin, 1789)
Common Name(s):
English Akepa, 'Akepa

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Baker, H.C., Baker, P.E., Camp, R., Freed, L., Fretz, S., Gorresen, M., Lepson, J., Scott, J., VanderWerf, E., Woodworth, B. & Hart, P.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Calvert, R., Capper, D., Harding, M., Isherwood, I., Khwaja, N., Mahood, S., Stattersfield, A., Stuart, T., Taylor, J., Derhé, M.
This species is listed as Endangered because it has a very small and severely fragmented range, which continues to decline in area and quality of habitat.

2012 Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Loxops coccineus is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, U.S.A. On Hawai'i, the only remaining subspecies (L. c. coccineus) occurs in three populations totalling c.14,000 individuals. The core populations have been stable, with peripheral ones declining, and one on Hualalai Volcano has apparently disappeared since 1978 (Scott et al. 1986, Pratt 1993, Lepson and Freed 1997). A comparison of data collected in 1987-1993 and 1999-2005 from Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge, Hawai`i, suggested the Akepa population crashed in this high-density site in 2006, after being non-viable from 2000 to 2005 (Freed et al. 2008). A decline in the population, a reduction in nesting success and survival of fledglings and, in birds younger than two years, a very male-biased sex ratio (almost 10:1) were reported to have led to the collapse (Freed et al. 2008). Conversely, annual monitoring data between 1987-2007 from a larger area within Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge indicates stable to increasing trends in the population at the open forest study area, and increasing short-term trends (since 1999) in the closed forest study area (R. Camp in litt. 2007, Camp et al. in press). On O'ahu, subspecies wolstenholmei is extinct (Lepson and Freed 1997), having been last recorded in 1930. On Maui, subspecies ochraceus is likely also to be extinct (H. Baker and P. Baker in litt. 2000); it was last recorded in 1988 (Scott et al. 1986, Stone and Loope 1987, Lepson and Freed 1997).

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

Population [top]

Population: On Hawai`i, the nominate subspecies occurs in three populations totalling c.14,000 individuals, equivalent to c.9,300 mature individuals. The other two subspecies are extinct (H. Baker and P. Baker in litt. 2000).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It inhabits wet and mesic forest, primarily of koa-`ohi`a at 1,100-2,100 m (mostly above 1,500 m) (Scott et al. 1986, Lepson and Freed 1997). On Hawai`i, it is an obligate cavity-nester and the highest densities are in old-growth forests, although it is also numerous in some disturbed forests with sufficient large trees. It feeds on small insects (including caterpillars) and spiders (Lepson and Freed 1997), and forages in the foliage of `ohi`a trees Metrosideros polymorpha (Freed et al. 2008). The species has a long incubation and nestling period (14-16 and 16-20 days, respectively), a four-month fledgling period, and high annual adult survival of 0.80 (Lepson and Freed 1995,1997).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Its habitat has been destroyed by logging and agriculture, and by commensal animals which have invaded montane forests (Scott et al. 1986, Pratt 1994, Lepson and Freed 1997). The slow growth of `ohi`a trees suggests that the large trees used for nesting are very old and so may take a long time to replace (USFWS 2003). Research has demonstrated that structural changes to habitat have affected food availability for this species (Fretz 2002). Avian diseases are readily transmitted by introduced mosquitoes whose spread is facilitated by feral pigs (Pratt 1994, Jacobi and Atkinson 1995). Introduced birds are reservoirs for diseases, and potential competitors for food (Scott et al. 1986, Pratt 1994, Lepson and Freed 1997). Introduced rats, cats, Barn Owls Tyto alba and possibly small Indian mongooses Herpestes auropunctatus are predators (Lepson and Freed 1997). An outbreak of introduced yellow-jacket wasps coincided with a year of poor reproductive success, and introduced ants probably also compete for native arthropods at lower elevations (Lepson and Freed 1997). Recent research has suggested that competition from the Japanese White-eye Zosterops japonicus was driving a population decline (Freed et al. 2008), however analysis of long-term surveys and a review of the research refute the theory (R. Camp in litt. 2007, Freed et al. 2008, Camp et al. in press).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
On Hawai`i, a large population is protected in Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and, to a lesser extent, in Ka`u Forest Reserve, Kulani Prison, Kilauea-Keauhou forests, Kona Forest National Wildlife Refuge and Pu`u Wa`awa`a State Wildlife Preserve (Lepson and Freed 1997, J. M. Scott in litt. 1999). Fencing, removal of feral pigs and cattle, and planting of koa seedlings and other native plants have all been carried out (USFWS 2003). Artificial nest-cavities and nest-boxes have been erected (Lepson and Freed 1997) and, in 1999 and 2000, c.10% of 60-70 boxes were used successfully (J. Lepson in litt. 2000). Captive propagation techniques have been developed in case they are needed to re-establish wild populations (USFWS 2003). The species has been studied continuously at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge since 1987 (Freed et al. 2008).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Research potential limiting factors. Research response to habitat restoration (Lepson and Freed 1997). Preserve unprotected native forests above the zone where mosquitoes occur (Ralph and Fancy 1994). Control rodents to reduce competition for nest-sites and to reduce predation of chicks and eggs from artificial boxes (Jacobi and Atkinson 1995). Consider establishing captive breeding programmes.

Citation: BirdLife International 2013. Loxops coccineus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 04 September 2015.
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