Emberiza socotrana 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Emberizidae

Scientific Name: Emberiza socotrana (Ogilvie-Grant & Forbes, 1899)
Common Name(s):
English Socotra Bunting
French Bruant de Socotra
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A., Fishpool, L.D.C., Boesman, P. and Kirwan, G.M. 2016. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Identification information: 13 cm. Small bunting. Black-and-white striped head. Rufous-brown upperparts. White underparts with reddish wash on breast. Whitish band across lower back in flight. Female duller. Juvenile is duller still, with a much reduced or absent crown-stripe (Ryan et al. 2009). Similar spp. Cinnamon-breasted Bunting E. tahapisi has dark wing-coverts, black throat, darker underparts, and lacks whitish band across lower back. Voice High, thin whistle (sometimes repeated two or three times) followed by soft gurgle: tseep ... guruguruguru. Hints Mostly occurs on ground, although does perch in bushes and trees. Sometimes associates with E. tahapisi.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2017-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Jennings, M., Kirwan, G., Porter, R. & Saeed Suleiman, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., Martin, R, Martins, R., Taylor, J., Ashpole, J, Symes, A., Westrip, J.
This poorly known species is known from very few locations in suitable breeding habitat. Given its scarcity within its known range, it is likely to have a small or very small population, but this is likely to be stable since the species is not known to be facing any threats at present. However, there are potential threats that could mean that the range, area and quality of habitat and population size of the species may be likely to undergo declines in the near future. Therefore, the species is listed as Near Threatened.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to the island of Socotra, Yemen, where it is known from very few localities. In the highlands, there are records from fifteen localities in the breeding season, most in the Hagghier range and in the montane extreme west of the island (G. Kirwan in litt. 2007), including Adho Dimelho (including Adala) (Ogilvie-Grant and Forbes 1903, Forbes-Watson 1964, Ripley and Bond 1966, Kirwan 1998), Diksam (Porter et al. in prep.), near Skand (Porter et al. 2009), near Rookib (Kirwan et al. 1996) (all in the Hajhir [Hagghier] range) and the Ma'lih plateau (Porter et al. 2009); and in the lowlands it is known from near Qaysuh (near Kallansiya) (Forbes-Watson 1964, Ripley and Bond 1966). There is some evidence of dispersal to coastal areas in the west and north of the island in the non-breeding season, when flocks have been encountered in the littoral zone but the extent and frequency of altitudinal movements is unknown (G. Kirwan in litt. 2007). The species has been discovered at several new localities since the late 1990s. Porter and Suleiman (2013) estimated the population to number c.3,770 individuals based on analysis of transect data collected between 1999 and 2011, rounded here to c. 3,800 individuals. 

Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:1400
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:2-5Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):1160
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Porter and Suleiman (2013) estimated the population to number c.3,770 individuals based on analysis of transect data collected between 1999 and 2011, rounded here to c. 3,800 individuals. This is equivalent to c.2,500 mature individuals.

Trend Justification:  There are no new data on population trends, but the species is suspected to be stable (R. Porter in litt. 2012).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:2500Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species breeds in highland areas, probably at 500-1,200 m, apparently preferring rugged terrain with cliffs and boulders in the vicinity of granite peaks (G. Kirwan in litt. 2007). In these areas it occurs within relatively luxuriant vegetation dominated, at least locally, by Hypericum and Cocculus shrubs, but also in alpine meadow-like habitat (G. Kirwan in litt. 2007). It has been observed foraging on ledges of steep precipices, in areas of short grass, boulder-strewn areas with short scrub and scattered trees but also near the shore in the non-breeding season (G. Kirwan in litt. 2007). Food is poorly described but it has been seen to take seeds of various types, including grass seeds taken from seed heads, stomach contents have also contained grass seed and grit, the latter presumably ingested accidentally (G. Kirwan in litt. 2007). The nest and eggs have not been described. It is suspected that the nesting requirements (still unknown) are an important factor in restricting this species to high altitudes when breeding (Forbes-Watson 1964). It may be semi-colonial when breeding (singing males in November were distinctly clumped together) (Porter et al. in prep.). The known breeding season is thought to run from November to February (Porter and Suleiman 2013, R. Porter in litt. 2016).

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

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is rare and local, although apparently not declining. The species's range and population do, however, require careful monitoring, given its restricted distribution in the breeding season. One possible threat is that, were livestock grazing to become more widespread and intensive within the species's high-altitude breeding range, for example through improved water supply and the importation of fodder, habitat degradation, fragmentation and loss may occur; this requires monitoring. As an oceanic-island species (probably ground-nesting) with a small or very small population, it is permanently vulnerable to the impact of alien invasive species, and its population may already be limited in some way by well-established invasive predators on Socotra such as feral cat Felis catus, brown rat Rattus rattus or Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica. The ring road around the coast of the island has not yet damaged any breeding habitats, but could do if it extends to the western end of the island, when it would transverse the limestone plateau and cliffs, which are an important area for this species (R. Porter in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
Extensive surveys in 1993, 1999 and 2000 have discovered several important areas for the species (Kirwan et al. 1996, Morton 1996, Porter et al. in prep.), and the presumed main breeding area (the higher parts of the Hajhir range) lies within one of the main conservation zones of the Environmental Protection Council's masterplan for development of the archipelago (Zandri 2000). Five of the 21 IBAs identified on Socotra hold breeding populations of this species (R. Porter in litt. 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out a comprehensive survey of the highlands to better understand its distribution, population and breeding biology (Morton 1996). In the event of extensive habitat loss or modification in the highlands, appropriate interventions should be made (e.g. impact assessments, increased protection of key areas).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Emberiza socotrana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22720940A118847061. . Downloaded on 26 September 2018.
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