Otus moheliensis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Strigiformes Strigidae

Scientific Name: Otus moheliensis Lafontaine & Moulaert, 1998
Common Name(s):
English Moheli Scops-owl, Moheli Scops Owl
Spanish Autillo de Moheli
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Identification information: 20-22 cm. Small owl. Two colour forms. Rufous form is bright orangey-buff with unusually reduced barring and streaks. Brown morph is darker and heavily streaked and vermiculated. Voice Described as hissing whistles and screeches.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,v)+2ab(i,ii,iii,v); C2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2017-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Doulton, H., Marsh, C., Safford, R., Young, R. & Louette, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Warren, B., Ashpole, J, Westrip, J.
This scops-owl has a very small range and population size, occurring on only one island, though new information suggests that the species may be much more widespread on Moheli than previously thought. There has been a continuing decline in the area and quality of habitat, from which it is suspected that there has been a continuing decline in its extent of occurrence, area of occupancy and the number of mature individuals. Therefore, the species is now listed as Endangered.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to Mohéli in the Comoro Islands. The species is now thought to be widespread on Mohéli, possibly occurring down to sea level if there are trees (R. Young verbally to R. Safford in litt. 2015). It is thought to be declining due to habitat destruction (R. Safford in litt. 1999).

Countries occurrence:
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:21Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:250
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):YesExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:1Continuing decline in number of locations:No
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Upper elevation limit (metres):790
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It is relatively abundant - its density has been estimated at one individual/5 ha of near-primary forest (c. 10 km2) and one individual per 10 ha of degraded forest, giving a total population in the order of 400 individuals (Lafontaine and Moulaert 1998, 1999), roughly equivalent to 260 mature individuals. However, given new information that suggests the species is more widespread than previously thought, further work is needed to assess the population size.

Trend Justification:  The population is suspected to be in decline owing to ongoing habitat destruction.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:260Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:1Continuing decline in subpopulations:No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:Yes
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation:100

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species was previously thought to be only found in dense, humid forest, which remains on the central mountain peak and its upper slopes (Lafontaine and Moulaert 1998). However the species was recently found to possibly occur down to sea level if there are trees (R. Young verbally to R. Safford in litt. 2015). It is common in intact forest, but less so in forest under-planted for agriculture (Safford 2001). It has been sighted in degraded forest, however it is not known whether this habitat can support a breeding population (C. Marsh in litt. 2009).

Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):3.7
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): By 1995, intact, dense, humid forest remained on only 5% of the island, owing primarily to conversion for subsistence agriculture (Lafontaine and Moulaert 1998, 1999), underplanting, clear-felling and cultivation, and abandonment of sparsely vegetated land, which is highly susceptible to erosion and landslides (Safford 2001). Invasive exotic plant species, such as jamrosa Syzygium jambos, Lantana camara and Clidemia hirta, are abundant in the forest and are degrading the native habitat (Safford 2001). Hunting probably affects this species (Safford 2001). Introduced species including rats and Common Mynas, Acridotheres tristis, are common, and may compete with O. moheliensis for food or predate its nests (Safford 2001). Having a 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 Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The highlands of the island are currently unprotected, but proposals have been made to protect them by extending the Réserve Marine de Nioumachoua (Safford 2001). The Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation planned to carry out a feasibility study to expand its forest management project from Anjouan to Mohéli (H. Doulton in litt. 2010).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to assess the current population size. Research the ecology of this species, to aid conservation plans. Create a reserve in the interior of the island to protect suitable habitat (Safford 2001). Develop an environmental education programme to increase local awareness.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Otus moheliensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22724585A118472254. . Downloaded on 20 April 2018.
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