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Nukuhiva Imperial-pigeon Ducula galeata
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This species has a very small population, on two tiny islands, and owes its survival to the existence of several areas which are difficult to access by hunters and introduced grazers, and resistant to colonisation by rats. However, as a direct result of conservation action on Nuku Hiva and the translocation of birds to Ua Huka, the population is increasing slowly overall, and the establishment of a second population qualifies this species as Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Taxonomic note

55 cm. Very large, broad-winged pigeon with expanded cere flattened dorso-ventrally, making bill look duck-like at distance. Mostly dark slate-grey with bronze-green reflections on upperparts. Rufous-chestnut undertail-coverts. White eyes. Voice Deep bellow waah-waah, like the mooing of a cow.

Distribution and population
Ducula galeata is endemic to the Marquesas Islands and until 2000 was only known from Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia, where it is now restricted to valleys in the west and north of the island, although there have been recent observations of the species in the central south of the island (Anon 2011). In 1998, a maximum of 85 birds were seen and the population was estimated at c.250, distributed in small subpopulations between which the passage of individuals was not evaluated (Evva 1998). Surveys between 2004 and 2006 found the population was apparently stable (Gouni 2006) and was estimated at 265 individuals in 2008 (Gouni et al. 2008, Gouni et al. 2011). There is a late 18th century record from Tahiti in the Society Islands, and fossil evidence indicates that it once occurred on a further four islands in the Society and Marquesas Islands, and also in the Southern Cook Islands and Henderson in the Pitcairn Islands (Steadman 1989), though this may be subject to revision: the bones attributed to this species may come from a different species at least on Henderson (P. Raust in litt. 2007). A translocation programme began in 2000 to establish a second population on Ua Huka Island, (with a carrying capacity estimated at 200-300 individuals [A. Gouni in litt. 2012]). This translocated population increased by 28% in the 2005-2006 season and reached 46 individuals in 2008 (Gouni et al. 2008, Gouni et al. 2011). A visit to the island in 2010 reported a number of individuals and several nests (Champeau 2010).

Population justification
The population on Nuku Hiva was estimated at 265 individuals in 2008, and has probably been stable since then (though perhaps slowly increasing due to better public awareness). The recently established population on Ua Huka has already increased to 46 individuals. The population thus totals at least 300 individuals, roughly equivalent to 200 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Surveys indicate that the population on Nuka Hiva is stable or perhaps even increasing slightly. The reintroduced population on Ua Huka is slowly increasing.

It is an arboreal species found in remote wooded valleys from 250-1,300 m and is also seen in secondary forest and at the edge of banana and orange plantations (Holyoak and Thibault 1984). It feeds on fruit from trees and shrubs, including large quantities of guava Psidium guajava (Pratt et al. 1987). It only lays one egg suggesting that it is long lived and any population increases would be slow and unclear for several years (Villard et al. 2000).

Illegal hunting is the main concern (Evva 1998), though following an awareness raising campaign this appears to have been reduced. Nevertheless poaching has the potential to rapidly reduce the small population and remains a potential threat (Gouni 2006). Habitat has been modified and degraded by introduced vegetation and grazing by feral stock (Seitre and Seitre 1991, 1992, Evva 1998). However, cattle have been eradicated, and goats and pigs are decreasing (Evva 1998). New roads and tunnels could result in habitat loss and facilitate access and considerable disturbance, although there is currently little traffic (Evva 1998). Introduced cats Felis catus, pigs Sus scrofa, goats Capra hircus, cattle Bos taurus and possibly rats Rattus spp. are all common on Nuku Hiva and likely constitute a threat (Seitre and Seitre 1991, 1992, Blanvillain and Thorsen 2003).

Conservation Actions Underway
The bird is revered in local culture and hunting is forbidden (although it continues) (Evva 1998). Following recommendations of translocations (SPREP 1999), five birds were released on Ua Huka (where there are no R. rattus in June 2010 [Champeau 2010]). At least 4 of the 5 introduced birds had survived into June (Blanvillain et al. 2000), and in 2003, 5 more birds were released to augment the population. Following a 28% increase in this population during the 2005/6 season, the population reached 46 individuals in 2008 (Gouni et al. 2008, Gouni et al. 2011). A visit to the island in 2010 reported a number of individuals and several nests (Champeau 2010). Monitoring is continuing and, if deemed successful, further translocation will occur to increase the genetic base and further establish the population (Blanvillain et al. 2000). An awareness raising campaign focused initially on local school children has met with success and it has now been expanded to the general public. As a result hunting pressure appears to have been reduced (Gouni 2006). A moral agreement with the people of Ua Huka not to hunt the bird has been achieved (P. Raust in litt. 2007). Thanks to lobbying by Manu the road development project was amended and the new road and tunnel project cancelled - only rehabilitation of the actual road was carried out (A. Gouni in litt. 2007).Conservation Actions Proposed
Research predation by cats and rats and, depending on the results, set up some control measures (Evva 1998, Villard et al. 2000). Promote public awareness through publicity materials and schools, especially in relation to legal protection (Evva 1998). Ensure that game is not reintroduced into the wild (which would increase hunting generally) and prevent further accidental introductions of exotic species (Evva 1998). Ensure that road development takes account of the species's requirements (Evva 1998). Establish the absence of avian diseases (Evva 1998). Investigate the possibility of reintroducing the species to Ua Pou (A. Gouni in litt. 2012) and develop a captive breeding programme for both research purposes and to supplement the re-establishment of populations.

Anon. 2011. Carpophage des Marquises: Ducula galeata - Upe: Nuku Hiva. Te Manu: 3.

Blanvillain, C.; Thorsen, M. 2003. The biology of the critically endangered Marquesan Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula galeata), Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Archipelago (French Polynesia). Emu 103: 381-386.

Blanvillain, C.; Thorsen, M.; Sulpice, M. 2000. Disparu depuis plusieurs centaines d'années, le Carpophage des Marquises (Ducula galeata) à été réintroduit à Ua Huka par la Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie. Bulletin de la Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie (Te Manu) 32: 3-5.

Champeau, J. 2010. La SOP Manu en mission à Ua Huka (Marquises). Te Manu: 6-8.

Evva, J. 1998. Etude du Upe (Ducula galeata), Carpophage endemique de l'Archipel des Marquises (Polynésie Française): statut actuel, facteurs de disparition et mesures de conservation. CIRAD, French Polynesia.

Gouni A., Zyman T. 2011. OIseaux du Fenua, Tahiti et ses îles. 2nd edition. Téthys Editions, Taravao.

Gouni, A. 2006. La population de Upe se stabilise sur Nuku Hiva - et celle de Ua Huka est en plein expansion! Te Manu: 3-4.

Gouni, A., Ghestemme, T., Teikiteetini, M., Sulpice, R., Noiret, C., Contal, P., Nguyen, M., Portier, E., Teikiteetini, J., Jacq, F. and Butaud, J-F. 2008. Suivi des populations de Carpophages des Marquises Ducula galeata sur Nuku Hiva et Ua Huka en 2008. Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie "MANU", Taravao, Tahiti, French Polynesia.

Holyoak, D. T.; Thibault, J. -C. 1984. Contribution à l'étude des oiseaux de Polynésie orientale. Memoires du Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle - Serie A: Zoologie 127: 1-209.

M. Thorsen; C. Blanvillain; R. Sulpice. 2002. Reasons for decline, conservation needs, and a translocation of the critically endangered upe (Marquesas imperial pigeon, Ducula galeata), French Polynesia. DOC Science Internal Series. Department of Conservation.

Pratt, H. D.; Bruner, P. L.; Berrett, D. G. 1987. A field guide to the birds of Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Seitre, R.; Seitre, J. 1992. Causes of land-bird extinctions in French Polynesia. Oryx 26: 215-222.

SPREP. 1999. Proceedings of the Polynesian Avifauna Conservation Workshop held in Rarotonga, 26-30 April 1999.

Steadman, D. W. 1989. Extinctions of birds in Eastern Polynesia: a review of the records and comparisons with other Pacific Island Groups. Journal of Archaeological Science 16: 177-205.

Villard, P.; de Visscher, M.-N.; Balanca, G. 2003. Population size, habitats and conservation of Marquesan Imperial Pigeon Ducula galeata. Bird Conservation International 13: 189-197.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

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
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Derhé, M., O'Brien, A., Safford, R., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A.

Gouni, A., Raust, P.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Ducula galeata. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

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.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Marquesan imperial-pigeon (Ducula galeata) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Columbidae (Pigeons, Doves)
Species name author (Bonaparte, 1855)
Population size 200 mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 120 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species