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New Caledonian Grassbird Megalurulus mariei

Justification
This previously poorly known species has recently been found to be common and widespread across much of New Caledonia, where its favoured open grassy habitat is not immediately threatened, it remains numerous in close proximity to human habitation and does not appear to be declining owing to predation by invasive species. It has consequently been downlisted to Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
Megalurulus mariei, endemic to New Caledonia (to France), is secretive and often overlooked, but recent surveys have found it to be numerous and widely distributed. It is under-recorded by traditional survey methods but it is now considered common in all the massifs of the center from Hienghène (Todine Gaitada) to the Humbold massif (V. Chartendrault in litt. 2007, 2009), also occurring on 50% of mountain massifs in the north of the island and 37% of those in the south (Chartendrault & Barré 2005, Chartendrault & Barré 2006). It is absent from the Ile des Pins and the Loyalty Islands.

Population justification
The population is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 individuals, equating to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species's population is suspected to be stable as is not thought to have suffered from habitat loss and there is no evidence that it is susceptible to predation by invasive species.

Ecology
It is usually very secretive, rarely venturing into the open, but sometimes seen in short flights over vegetation. It is present in the "maquis minier" (mining bush) at high elevations (450-900 m on the Koniambo; 900-1000 m on the Koghis, Mont Mou; 400-500 m in the small talwegs of the Col d'Amos) where it favours habitats composed of a mixture of shrubs, grassy weeds and ferns, including Hibbertia altigena, Knightia deplanchei, Costularia and Gleichenia. The Gleichenia fern produces a dense cover and seems to be well correlated with the presence of the bird. This is apparently a pioneer plant associated with bush fire, which may indicate that the extent of suitable habitat may be increasing. But the bird is much more common in grassy/shrubby areas of non-ultramafique massifs, i.e. Melaleuca savannas and grasslands, and has also been found to be common at lower elevations (< 50 m) around rural dwellings and in secondary bushy (Goyava) vegetation and in tall grass/small trees at 200-300 m.

Threats
Rats (Rattus rattus and R. exulans) and cats are widespread and common even on remote elevated mountains, but there is no evidence that these are causing a decline and the species remains common in close proximity to villages, suggesting it is not particularly susceptible to predation (V. Chartendrault in litt. 2007, 2009). Natural regeneration of forests could locally reduce available habitat but bush fires, grazing and human modification mean the extent of open habitat in New Caledonia is not under threat and is probably increasing, and the species remains common in anthropogenic habitats.

Conservation Actions Underway
Extensive surveys were conducted in 2003-2006 by the Institut Agronomique néo-Calédonien (IAC) to establish the status of poorly known and threatened New Caledonian birds including Megalurus mariei (N. Barré in litt. 2002, Chartendrault & Barré 2005, Chartendrault & Barré 2006). Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor the species's status and distribution. Assess the impact of cats and rats. If judged to be apprporiate, implement control measures against cats and rats.

References
Chartendrault, V. and Barré, N. 2005. Etude du statut et de la distribution des oiseaux menaces de la province Nord de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Institut agronomique néo-calédonien, Port Laguerre, Nouvelle-Calédonie.

Chartendrault, V.; Barré, N. 2006. Etude du statut et de la distribution des oiseaux des forêts humides de la province Sud de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Institut agronomique néo-calédonien, Port Laguerre, Nouvelle-Calédonie.

Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Jones, J. P. G.; Willis, J.; Isherwood, I. 2000. The humid forests of New Caledonia: biological research and conservation recommendations for the vertebrate fauna of Grande Terre. CSB Conservation Publications, Cambridge, U.K.

Ekstrom, J. M. M.; Jones, J. P. G.; Willis, J.; Tobias, J.; Dutson, G.; Barre, N. 2002. New information on the distribution, status and conservation of terrestrial bird species in Grande Terre, New Caledonia. Emu 102: 197-207.

Villard, P.; Barré, N.; Ruiz, J. L. 2002. Inventaire et statut des oiseaux dans la zone d'emprise du projet Koniambo (Province Nord, Nouvelle-Calédonie).

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Dutson, G., Ekstrom, J., Benstead, P., O'Brien, A., Symes, A., Mahood, S.

Contributors
Dutson, G., Barré, N., Chartendrault, V., Spaggiari, J., Létocart, Y., Meresse, C.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Megalurulus mariei. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/11/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/11/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Sylviidae (Old World warblers)
Species name author Verreaux, 1869
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 16,400 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species