|Scientific Name:||Foudia flavicans|
|Species Authority:||Newton, 1865|
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Near Threatened ver 3.1|
|Contributor(s):||Jones, C., Tatayah, V. & Steward, P.|
|Facilitator/Compiler(s):||Benstead, P., Ekstrom, J., McClellan, R., Pilgrim, J., Shutes, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Warren, B.|
This species has been downlisted from Vulnerable following evidence that its population is larger than previously thought and increasing rapidly. It is listed as Near Threatened because it occupies a tiny range and remains susceptible to stochastic events and the impacts of introduced species, such that it could qualify as threatened within one or two generations.
Foudia flavicans, having once been abundant on Rodrigues, Mauritius, declined drastically to 5-6 pairs in 1968. By April 1983, it had recovered to c.110 birds on the island's northern slopes. Populations have increased in line with the recovery and expansion of native and exotic woodland (C. Jones in litt. 2000, Safford 2001). In 1999, the population was estimated at a minimum of 334 pairs and 911 individuals (Impey 1999, 2002), and maximum of 500 pairs and 1,200 individuals (C. Jones in litt. 2000), but by 2010 the total population had risen extremely rapidly and numbered up to 8,000 individuals (C. Jones in litt. 2013). Considering uncertainties and difficulties in estimating this species's population, the total number of individuals is now estimated at 4,000-8,000 (C. Jones in litt. 2013, P. Steward in litt. 2013).
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
|Population:||Following a rapid increase, in 2010 the population was estimated to number a maximum of 8,000 individuals, based on the relative abundances of this species and Rodrigues Warbler Acrocephalus rodericanus (C. Jones in litt. 2010, 2013). Considering uncertainties and difficulties inherent in estimating this species's population size, the estimate is put at 4,000-8,000 individuals (C. Jones in litt. 2013, P. Steward in litt. 2013), assumed to include c.2,600-5,400 mature individuals.|
|Habitat and Ecology:||It occupies most areas of mature canopy, mixed woodland taller than 5 m in height (C. Jones in litt. 2000, Safford 2001). Highest population densities are found in forest of greatest tree height, canopy cover and tree species diversity (Impey et al. 2002). It may preferentially hold territories close to areas of Norfolk Island pine Araucaria cunninghamii, showing high adaptation to some exotic vegetation (Impey 1999). It feeds on insects, spiders, nectar, seeds and some fruit (Cheke 1987d).|
|Major Threat(s):||Forest destruction, subsistence farming and the impacts of free-ranging livestock resulted in the complete destruction of native forest such that only scattered individuals of most native trees survived (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Loss of habitat, competition with introduced Madagascar Red Fody F. madagascariensis, cyclones and a severe drought caused a huge decline in the population by the 1970s (C. Jones in litt. 2000, Safford 2001). Black rat Rattus rattus is a predator of eggs and chicks, but F. flavicans has survived alongside it for hundreds of years. Feral cats are potential predators. Competition with F. madagascariensis may be significant when food is in short supply (i.e. droughts and cyclones), and probably restricts F. flavicans to forest habitat. Habitat destruction and degradation are no longer major threats (C. Jones in litt. 2000).|
Conservation Actions Underway
Habitat protection and reforestation, spurred primarily by the need for watershed protection, have been key to the recovery of this species, aided by the recent absence of catastrophic cyclones. Much reforestation has involved exotic trees, although native ecosystem rehabilitation has been started at some sites, including the two Nature Reserves, Grande Montagne and Anse Quitor (both 0.1 km2). Sites are fenced to exclude grazing animals and woodcutters, exotic plants removed and native species replanted. There has been an accompanying public awareness campaign. F. flavicans has been bred in captivity, but releases have not been needed (Safford 2001), and there are now no captive birds held (C. Jones in litt. 2000). There is also a watershed protection and reafforestation programme with exotic and native species. Conservation Actions Proposed
Habitat management to enhance populations should focus on protecting existing wooded valleys to allow forest maturation and expansion of afforested areas (Impey et al. 2002). Develop further Nature Reserves (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Instigate a long-term monitoring programme (Impey 1999, C. Jones in litt. 2000). Collect data on reproductive success (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Investigate long-term possibilities of controlling or excluding rats and cats (C. Jones in litt. 2000). Continue restoration of native forest as an enduring safeguard (Impey 1999).
Cheke, A. S. 1987. Observations on the surviving endemic birds of Rodrigues. In: Diamond, A.W. (ed.), Studies in Mascarene island birds, pp. 364-402. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.
Impey, A. 1999. Population census and habitat selection of Rodrigues Fody Foudia flavicans.
Impey, A. J.; Côté, I. M.; Jones, C. G. 2002. Population recovery of the threatened endemic Rodrigues fody Foudia flavicans (Aves, Ploceidae) following reforestation. Biological Conservation 107: 299-305.
IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.2). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 13 November 2013).
Norfolk, D. 2010. Range expansion and population growth of the Vulnerable endemic Rodrigues Fody (Foudia flavicans). University of East Anglia.
Safford, R. J. 2001. Mauritius. In: Fishpool, L.D.C.; Evans, M.I. (ed.), Important Bird Areas in Africa and associated islands: Priority sites for conservation, pp. 583-596. Pisces Publications and BirdLife International (BirdLife Conservation Series No.11), Newbury and Cambridge, UK.
|Citation:||BirdLife International 2013. Foudia flavicans. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 26 January 2015.|