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Survival and extinction of breeding landbirds on San Cristóbal, a highly degraded island in the Galápagos

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 August 2019

MICHAEL DVORAK
Affiliation:
BirdLife Austria, 1070 Vienna, Austria.
BIRGIT FESSL
Affiliation:
Charles Darwin Research Station, Charles Darwin Foundation, Av. Charles Darwin s/n, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador.
ERWIN NEMETH
Affiliation:
BirdLife Austria, 1070 Vienna, Austria.
DAVID ANCHUNDIA
Affiliation:
Charles Darwin Research Station, Charles Darwin Foundation, Av. Charles Darwin s/n, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador.
JAVIER COTÍN
Affiliation:
Charles Darwin Research Station, Charles Darwin Foundation, Av. Charles Darwin s/n, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador.
CHRISTIAN H. SCHULZE
Affiliation:
Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, 1030 Vienna, Austria.
WASHINGTON TAPIA
Affiliation:
Galapagos Conservancy, Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative, Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador.
BEATE WENDELIN
Affiliation:
Office for Landscape Ecology, 7122 Gols, Austria.
Corresponding

Summary

We documented the consequences of large-scale habitat loss on a community of Galápagos native bird species on San Cristóbal island, based on point counts conducted between 2010 and 2017. Surprisingly, despite considerable habitat change and a variety of other threats, the landbirds of San Cristóbal have fared much better than on the neighbouring islands Floreana or Santa Cruz. While two species went extinct very soon after human colonisation, the majority have adapted well to subsequent vegetation change and habitat loss. The endemic San Cristóbal Mockingbird Mimus melanotis is more widespread than previously thought and its population seems to be stable since the 1980s. We thus propose a change in IUCN classification from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Near threatened’. We present evidence gained by interviewing locals which suggests that a small population of the Least Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus dubius, classified as ‘Extinct’ by BirdLife International, may have persisted until very recently. Although extensive searches in 2018 and 2019 were unsuccessful, the possibility remains that a few birds may have survived in remote parts of the island. Further searches that involve the general public and other interested parties are therefore deemed necessary.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© BirdLife International, 2019

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