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Location Tonga, Vava'u
Central coordinates 174o 19.30' West  18o 1.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4i, A4iii
Area 403 ha
Altitude 0 - 195m
Year of IBA assessment 2012

Site description Fonualei IBA comprises the whole island of Fonualei which supports a recently established population of the Tongan megapode Megapodius pritchardii, and another globally threatened species, the friendly ground-dove Gallicolumba stairi. The island is an isolated active volcano, approximately 200 ha in area and the megapodes lay their eggs in soil heated by volcanic ducts. The sooty tern Sterna fusca nests in very large numbers on the island and two restricted range species, the wattled honeyeater Foulehaio carunculata and the Polynesian starling Aplonis tabuensis occur on the island.

Key Biodiversity Fonualei is known primarily for its large colony of sooty tern Sterna fuscata which was estimated at over 100,000 in 1980 (Jenkins 1980). In 2003, there were three colonies on the island, the largest in the crater was over one hectare in area and quite densely packed (Watling 2003). More recently, Fonualei has become better known because of the successful translocation to the island of the Tongan megapode Megapodius pritchardii (Beaudry et al. 1997; Watling 2003) by Dieter Rinke and staff of the Tongan Wildlife Centre in 1993. Also occurring on the island is the friendly ground-dove Gallicolumba stairi, the wattled honeyeater Foulehaio carunculata and the Polynesian starling Aplonis tabuensis. The Whitney South Seas Expedition collected on the island, August 25 1925, their collections included a vagrant pintail duck Anas acuta, the only record ever in the region.

Non-bird biodiversity: There is no plant list for Fonualei and nothing recorded on faunal groups other than the birds.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Tongan Scrubfowl Megapodius pritchardii resident  2003  300-500 individuals  poor  A1, A2  Endangered 
Sooty Tern Onychoprion fuscatus breeding  1980  100,000 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Shy Ground-dove Alopecoenas stairi breeding  2003  common  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Wattled Honeyeater Foulehaio carunculatus breeding  2003  common  A2  Least Concern 
Polynesian Starling Aplonis tabuensis breeding  2003  common  A2  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  1980  100,000 individuals  poor  A4iii   


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Rocky areas   major
Shrubland   major

References Beaudry, J., F. Tutu’alao, L.Matavalea. 1997. Report on bird survey to Fonualei and Late, September-October 1996. Unpubl. Report. Tongan Wildlife Centre, Tongatapu Crane, W. 1992. The Environment of Tonga: A Geography Resource. Wendy Crane Books, Lower Hutt. Jenkins, J.A.F. 1980. Seabird records from Tonga-an account based on the literature and recent observations. Notornis 27:205-235. Prescott, N. and P. S. Folaumoetu’i (Editors). 2004. Tonga Biodiversity Stocktaking. Technical Report 1 for the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. Dept. of Environment, Nuku’alofa Stattersfield, A.J., M.J. Crosby, A.J. Long, and D.C. Wege. 1998. Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for biodiversity conservation. BirdLife Conservation Series no. 7, BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. 846 pp. Taylor and Ewart, 1997 Watling, D. 2003. Report on a Visit to Late and Fonualei Islands, Vava'u Group, Kingdom of Tonga. Unpublished Report to the Van Tienhoven Foundation.

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Fonualei. Downloaded from on 24/10/2016

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