|Location||Christmas Island (to Australia)|
|Central coordinates||105o 38.27' East 10o 29.04' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A4ii, A4iii|
|Altitude||0 - 361m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2009|
Summary Christmas Island is an Endemic Bird Area in its own right, supporting five endemic species and five subspecies including the Critically Endangered Christmas Island Frigatebird, the Endangered Abbott's Booby and the Vulnerable Christmas Island Imperial-pigeon, Hawk-owl and White-eye. It also supports more than 1% of the world population of five other seabirds.
Site description The IBA consists of the entire of Christmas Island as all of the island is used by some endemic bird species, and most threats need to be managed on a whole-island basis. It is located in the north-east Indian Ocean, approximately 2800 km west of Darwin and 360 km south of Java Head (Indonesia), and is administered as an Australian territory. The Island is 135 km2 of which 85 km2 (63%) is National Park. In addition, a marine park extends 50 m seaward of the low water mark for 46 km (63%) of the coastline. Australian Exclusive Economic Zone waters extend out 370 km to the east, south and west, but only to about 165 km to the north where they border the Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zone. Christmas Island is the summit of a submarine mountain, with coastal cliffs rising steeply to a central plateau dominated by stands of rainforest. The climate is equatorial with a wet season (north-west monsoons) from December to April and a dry season (south-east trade winds) throughout the rest of the year. Christmas Island's avian biogeography is influenced by both the Sunda and Australian aviafaunas but belongs to neither. It is biogeographically unique. The vegetation is predominantly a floristically depauperate but structurally complex rainforest at the interior of the island, with semi-deciduous vine thickets on coastal terraces. Approximately 25% of the island has been cleared of native vegetation and comprises open rocky ground, weed fields, secondary growth and urban areas (Stokes 1988; Flora of Australia 1993; Director of National Parks 2000; Johnstone and Darnell 2004).
Key Biodiversity Twenty-three species of birds breed on Christmas Island. Eleven of these are endemic: five species (Papasula abbotti, Fregata andrewsi, Ducula whartoni, Ninox natalis and Zosterops natalis) and six subspecies (Phaethon lepturus fulvus, Fregata minor listeri (taxonomic revision in prep), Accipiter fasciatus natalis, Chalcochaps indica natalis, Collocalia esculenta [=linchii?] natalis and Turdus poliocephalis erythropleurus). Accipiter fasciatus natalis is probably better treated as an endemic species, although no recent taxonomic assessment has been made. It would qualify as threatened under IUCN criteria were it elevated to species rank. The Collocalia is probably an endemic subspecies of C. linchii rather than C. esculenta, on biogeographical and morphological grounds. Ducula, Chalcochaps, Collocalia, Turdus and Zosterops are abundant. Ninox and Accipiter are both uncommon, probably naturally. Three species have colonised Christmas Island since its settlement in 1888: Falco cenchroides (c. 1940s), Egretta novaehollandiae (c. 1930s) and Amaurornis phoenicurus (c. 1992). This is probably due to the creation of suitable habitat following forest clearing. Falco cenchroides is abundant but the other two are uncommon. Three species have been introduced: Gallus gallus, Passer montanus and Lonchura oryzivora; all are largely commensal and not found in natural habitats. The only other breeding landbird is Egretta sacra. Christmas Island is one of only two islands in the world where eight species of Pelicaniformes breed together. Four of these (Papasula abbotti, Fregata andrewsi, Fregata minor listeri and Phaethon lepturus fulvus) breed nowhere else. The other four are Sula sula, Sula leucogaster, Fregata ariel and Phaethon rubricauda westralis. Seven of these species breed in internationally significant numbers on Christmas Island; Fregata ariel was first reported breeding in 2002. Anous stolidius also breeds in large numbers. Approximately 100 species of migrants and vagrants have been recorded on Christmas Island, none of which regularly occur in large numbers. These species originate largely from the Sunda region but many also originate from Australia. Many have not been recorded elsewhere in Australia.
Non-bird biodiversity: There are at least 225 endemic animals (species and subspecies; James 2005) and 18 endemic vascular plants (Flora of Australia 1993) on Christmas Island. Endemic animals include: four mammals; five reptiles; three marine fish; nine marine sponges; one brachypod; eight terrestrial gastropods; one terrestrial olygochaete; and 190+ arthropods (James 2005). However, there are probably many undescribed endemic terrestrial and subterranean invertebrates. The land crab fauna is diverse and unparalleled (Hicks et al. 1984). The endemic red crab plays a significant part in determining the floristics and structure of the forests. Several insect genera are endemic (James 2005). The subterranean fauna is poorly known, but may be amongst the most significant in the world (Humphries and Eberhard 2001).
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Red-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda||resident||1984||1,380 breeding pairs||good||A4ii||Least Concern|
|White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus||resident||1984-1988||600-12,000 breeding pairs||good||A4ii||Least Concern|
|Christmas Frigatebird Fregata andrewsi||resident||2003||1,200-2,400 breeding pairs||good||A1, A4ii||Critically Endangered|
|Great Frigatebird Fregata minor||resident||1984||6,500 individuals||good||A4ii||Least Concern|
|Abbott's Booby Papasula abbotti||resident||2002||1,500-2,500 breeding pairs||good||A1, A4ii||Endangered|
|Red-footed Booby Sula sula||resident||1984||12,050 breeding pairs||good||A4ii||Least Concern|
|Brown Booby Sula leucogaster||resident||1984||4,910 breeding pairs||good||A4ii||Least Concern|
|Christmas Imperial-pigeon Ducula whartoni||resident||2000-2006||1,000-10,000 mature individuals||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Christmas Boobook Ninox natalis||resident||1996||1,000 individuals||good||A1||Vulnerable|
|Christmas Island White-eye Zosterops natalis||breeding||2004-2006||20,000 individuals||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|A4iii Species group - seabirds||-||-||10,000 breeding pairs||unknown||A4iii|
|2014||very high||not assessed||not assessed|
|Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data|
|Energy production and mining||mining and quarrying||happening now||some of area/population (10-49%)||moderate to rapid deterioration||high|
|Residential and commercial development||housing and urban areas||happening now||small area/few individuals (<10%)||no or imperceptible deterioration||low|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Christmas Island||National Park||8,719||protected area contained by site||8,719|
|Hosnie's Spring||Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar)||1||protected area contained by site||1|
|The Dales, Christmas Island||Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar)||57||protected area contained by site||57|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial - terrestrial||Other urban & industrial areas||5%|
|Coastline||Sea cliffs, rocky shores & rocky islets||5%|
|Forest||Rainforest & vine thickets||60%|
|Shrubland||Closed shrublands & low closed woodlands||5%|
Land ownership Mostly owned and managed by Parks Australia (for the federal government) and Phosphate Resources Ltd.
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|energy production and mining||major|
|Notes: including abandoned mined land|
|nature conservation and research||major|
Protection status The IBA contains the Christmas Island National Park.
Acknowledgements The nomination was prepared by David James (Parks Australia).
References Director of National Parks (2002) Christmas Island National Park Management Plan. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
Dunlop, J.N. (1988) The Status and Biology of the Golden Bosunbirds Phaethon lepturus fulvus. Unpublished report. Christmas Island: Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Flora of Australia (1993) Flora of Australia Volume 50. Oceanic Islands 2. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. Hicks, J., Rumpff, H. and Yorkston, H. (1984) Christmas Crabs. Christmas Island: Christmas Island Natural History Society.
Hill, F.A.R. (1996) The Christmas Island Hawk-Owl: Its distribution, population size and concservation status. Unpublished report. Darwin: Australian Nature Conservation Agency.
Humphreys, W.F. and Ebberhard, S. (2001) Subterranean fauna of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Helicite 37: 59-74.
James, D.J. (2003) A survey of Christmas Island Frigatebird nests in 2003. Unpublished report. Christmas Island: Parks Australia North.
James, D.J. (2005) Christmas Island Biodiversity Programme: Quarterly report for the period October to December 2004. Unpublished report. Christmas Island: Parks Australia North.
James, D.J. (2007) Christmas Island biodiversity monitoring programme: summary report, December 2003 - April 2006. Parks Australia North Christmas Island Biodiversity Monitoring Programme. Canberra: Department of Finance and Administration and Department of the Environment and Water Resources.
James, D.J. (2007) Forest birds of Christmas Island: a baseline survey of abundance. Parks Australia North Christmas Island Biodiversity Monitoring Programme. Canberra: Department of Finance and Administration and Department of the Environment and Water Resources.
Johnstone, R.E. and Darnell, J.C. (2004) Appendix A: Annotated Checklist of Christmas Island Birds. Pp. 439-476 in R.E. Johnstone and G.M. Storr, eds. Handbook of the Birds of Western Australia. Volume 2: Passerines (Blue-Winged Pitta to Goldfinch). Perth: Western Australian Museum.
Olsen, P.D. (2004) Background Information on Abbott's Booby, Papasula abbotti. Unpublished report. Canberra: Department of Environment and Heritage.
Stokes, T. (1988) A review of the birds of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service Occasional Paper 16.
Contribute Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.
Recommended citation BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Christmas Island. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/11/2014
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife