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Aplonis santovestris 

Scope: Global
Language: English
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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Sturnidae

Scientific Name: Aplonis santovestris Harrisson & Marshall, 1937
Common Name(s):
English Mountain Starling, Santo Starling, Vanuatu Starling
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: 17 cm. Small, rather dumpy, warm-brown forest starling. Adults rich rusty-brown, slightly darker on upperparts and blackish on crown, with white iris. Juveniles undescribed. Similar spp. Rusty-winged Starling A. zelandicus has dark iris, dark mask and is greyish with rusty-brown restricted to wings and rump. Voice Simple, high-pitched, cheeping contact call. Hints Unobtrusive species, which has been seen on only a few expeditions to the highest altitudes.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(v)+2ab(v); C2a(i,ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2017-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Barré, N., Dutson, G., Maturin, S., Mittermeier, J., O'Brien, M., Szucs, L. & Totterman, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A.
Justification:
This species is classified as Endangered on the basis of an estimated very small population which is known from very few locations, and is precautionarily assessed as being in decline owing to the effects of hunting and/or introduced species.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Aplonis santovestris is endemic to Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. It has been recorded from three of the highest mountains, Mt. Watiamasan, Mt. Tabwemasana and Peak Santo, in 1934, 1961, and 1991 (Harrison and Marshall 1937, Reside 1991, Bregulla 1992) and again at Pic Santo in 2010 (S. Totterman per G. Dutson in litt. 2016). Local villagers have reported it to be widespread in the western mountain ranges (S. Maturin in litt. 1994). Although some local villagers reported the species to be common, it appears to occur at low population densities and to be very localised (Harrison and Marshall 1937, Reside 1991, Bregulla 1992, S. Maturin in litt. 1994). Despite the recent record in 2010, several observers have trekked to these altitudes and failed to find the species (Barré et al. 2011, L. Szucs per G. Dutson in litt. 2016, J. Mittermeier in litt. 2017). Tracewski et al. (2016) estimated the maximum Area of Occupancy (calculated as the remaining tree area within the species’s range) to be c.21 km2.

Countries occurrence:
Native:
Vanuatu
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:21Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:450
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:NoLower elevation limit (metres):1200
Upper elevation limit (metres):1900
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Recorded in ones and twos, and reported as 'locally common, not rare' on Santo Pic in August-October 2010 (S. Totterman per G. Dutson in litt. 2016). The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature 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 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals. However, the population may in fact be smaller given the paucity of recent records and its restriction to an extremely small area of mountain tops (G. Dutson in litt. 2016).

Trend Justification:  The few records of this species mean it is not possible to assess its recent population trend, but it has clearly declined since historical records and probably since the last record in 1991 (G. Dutson in litt. 2016). There are also plausible threats to the species, with the Man Hill people reportedly eating this species (S. Maturin in litt. 1994). Additionally, a number of other Pacific montane starling species have become extinct, presumably through the introduction of predatory mammals or disease (Pratt et al. 1987), and while Santo has no native land mammals, introduced species such as cats, dogs and rats are now widespread. Therefore, the species may be undergoing a continuous decline, and is precautionarily listed as such, though further work is required to get a better estimate of population trends.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:250-999Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
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:

It forages in singles and pairs in the understorey of cloud-forest above 1,200 m, usually above 1,600 m, on the highest peaks. It is rarely recorded more than 6 m above the ground and is reported to nest in holes low down in trees (Harrison and Marshall 1937, Reside 1991, Bregulla 1992). 

Systems:Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):4.1
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The Man Hill people at Matantas Big Bay report regularly eating this species (S. Maturin in litt. 1994), however they rarely visit high altitudes and the validity of this report has been questioned (S. Totterman in litt. 2007). Overall, the number of people living at high altitudes on Santo has decreased through the last few decades (Pickering 1985, G. Dutson pers. obs. 1998). Forest on Santo remains largely intact, and has only partially been altered by clearings for pastures and coconut plantations in the lowlands and lower hills (Barré et al. 2011). A number of other montane starling species from the Pacific have become extinct, presumably through the introduction of predatory mammals or disease (Pratt et al. 1987). Santo has no native land mammals but cats, dogs and rats are now widespread. 

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey other mountains in the vicinity. Re-survey the three known locations - local reports that the species is widespread and common in suitable habitat need to be confirmed. Colour-ring birds at these sites to help assess population sizes and longevity. Survey all montane sites for introduced mammalian predators. Discuss the species's status and distribution with local villagers.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over part of range
  Occur in at least one PA:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:No
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:No
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.1. Habitat shifting & alteration
♦ timing:Future ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.3. Indirect ecosystem effects

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming (Felis catus (
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target) (Unspecified Rattus (
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:No decline ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Canis familiaris ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:No decline ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Felis catus ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:No decline ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.2. Named species [ Unspecified Rattus ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:No decline ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.7. Reduced reproductive success

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends

Bibliography [top]

Barré, N., Delsinne, T. and Fontaine, B. 2011. Terrestrial Bird Communities. In: Bouchet P., Le Guyader H. and Pascal O. (eds), The Natural History of Santo, MNHN, IRD, PNI, Paris.

Bregulla, H. L. 1992. Birds of Vanuatu. Anthony Nelson, Oswestry, U.K.

Harrisson, T. H.; Marshall, A. J. 1937. Aplonis santovestris sp. nov. (Type description). Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club LVII: 148-150.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-3. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 7 December 2017).

Pickering, R. H. 1985. Santo Mountains Expedition 1985.

Pratt, H. D.; Bruner, P. L.; Berrett, D. G. 1987. A field guide to the birds of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Reside, J. 1991. Mataweli is alive and well: the search for the Santo Mountain Starling. Wingspan: 10-11.

Tracewski, L., Butchart, S.H.M., Di Marco, M., Ficetola, G.F., Rondinini, C., Symes, A., Wheatley, H., Beresford, A.E. and Buchanan, G.M. 2016. Toward quantification of the impact of 21st-century deforestation on the extinction risk of terrestrial vertebrates. Conservation Biology.


Citation: BirdLife International. 2017. Aplonis santovestris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22710485A119060447. . Downloaded on 20 June 2018.
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