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Location Northern Mariana Islands (to USA), Rota Island
Central coordinates 145o 12.00' East  14o 10.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 4,904 ha
Altitude 0 - 450m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Site description The proposed IBA on Rota includes those areas that have been deemed feasible for management under the US National Park system. The IBA includes large areas of native forest and the USFWS-designated Critical Habitats for the Rota Bridled White-Eye and the Mariana Crow. Several cultural sites are included in the proposed IBA. Parts of the proposed IBA are currently protected by CNMI law. Because of Rota’s remaining native forest, several rare, endangered, and endemic species are known to occur in the proposed IBA.

Key Biodiversity Rota has two threatened birds that are restricted in range. The Rota Bridled White-Eye (formerly classified as a subspecies of Bridled White-Eye in Engbring et al. (1986) but later separated as its own species) is endemic to Rota and listed as Critically Endangered due to declining populations. Decline of the Rota Bridled White-Eye is in part due to predation by introduced species such as the Black Drongo and rats and in part due to habitat loss and degradation (USFWS, 2004; Craig, 1999). A small population size and limited distribution also increase the species vulnerability (USFWS, 2004). In 2004 there had been two captures of the Brown Treesnake on Rota (Campbell, 2004). The Mariana Crow, originally restricted to Guam and Rota, is listed as Endangered. The population in Guam was extirpated, although in 2005 10 birds were transplanted from Rota and did survive on Guam (Aguon et al., 2005). Declines of the Mariana Crow on Guam are largely attributed to the Brown Treesnake (Wiles et al., 2003), but introduced predators, human persecution, and habitat loss and degradation have all contributed to the decline (Plentovich et al., 2005). In 1982 Engbring et al. (1986) estimated the population of Rota Bridled White-Eyes to number over 10,000. The species was found in several areas, but generally above 300 meters in elevation. By 1996 the population numbered only over 1000 birds and was restricted to four patches of mature wet forest above 200 m (Fancy and Snetsinger (2001) in USFWS (2004)) (Figure 3). Craig (1999) wrote that the bird was restricted to the Sabana plateau region of Rota. In 1982 Engbring et al. (1986) found Mariana Crows to be distributed throughout Rota with a population of over 1300 birds. In 2004 there were only an estimated 85 pairs remaining (Aguon et al., 2005). In 2004 the USFWS (2004) designated Critical Habitat for the Mariana Crow. This habitat included expected recovery zones. Tanaka and Haig (2004) did not detect Mariana Common Moorhens during surveys, but did report several sightings, including evidence of breeding (Worthington, 1998), of the birds on golf course wetlands and ephemeral streams. Reichel (1991) reported 445 pairs of breeding seabirds for Rota, including 200 pairs of Red-footed Boobies and 100 pairs of Brown Noddies.

Non-bird biodiversity: Several rare, endangered, and endemic species are known to occur in the proposed IBA, including: • Endangered plants o Osmoxylon mariannenese o Nesogenese rotensis o Serianthes nelsonii o Tabernaemontana rotensis(candidate endangered species) • Mariana Fruit Bats • Fragile Tree Snail • A translocated population of Guam Rails (introduced to Rota)

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Mariana Fruit-dove Ptilinopus roseicapilla resident  present  A1, A2  Endangered 
White-throated Ground-dove Alopecoenas xanthonurus resident  present  A1, A2  Near Threatened 
Micronesian Myzomela Myzomela rubratra resident  present  A2  Least Concern 
Rufous Fantail Rhipidura rufifrons resident  present  A2  Least Concern 
Mariana Crow Corvus kubaryi resident  2002  85 breeding pairs  unknown  A1, A2  Critically Endangered 
Rota Bridled White-eye Zosterops rotensis resident  1996  1,000 individuals  unknown  A1, A2  Critically Endangered 
Micronesian Starling Aplonis opaca resident  present  A2  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2007 high not assessed not assessed

Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Sabana Other Area 1,700 unknown 0  

Protection status Rota currently has three terrestrial conservation areas, all legislated by CNMI law in the 1990s (CNMI DFW, 2007d). These conservation areas include parts of the critical habitats for the Rota Bridled White-Eye and the Mariana Crow. In 2004 Senators from the Rota government requested assistance from the US National Park Service (NPS, 2005) in identifying feasibility and alternatives for a National Park or conservation area on Rota. In 2004 the NPS conducted a reconnaissance survey of Rota and found that the natural and cultural resources of Rota were feasible as additions to the National Park System. The NPS identified areas that would be suitable as a National Park. They found that these areas were publicly-owned lands where current human uses could be phased out; most of the lands are currently protected under current law. They also found that there was strong support from the Rota government and the Rota community for a National Park (NPS, 2005).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Rota. Downloaded from on 18/12/2014

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