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Mao Gymnomyza samoensis
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This forest species qualifies as Endangered because it has a very small population and a small, fragmented range that is declining as the quality of its forest habitat diminishes.

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

Taxonomic note

31 cm. Large, dark honeyeater with long, slightly decurved bill. Sooty-black head, shading to dusky olive-green posteriorly and on wings, slightly tawny on undertail-coverts. Olive streak under eye. Eyes are blue in adults and brown in chicks. Similar spp. Samoan Starling Aplonis atrifusca has heavier, less pointed and curved bill, is brownish-black with no green tones. Voice Calls include mechanical-sounding chips and short squeaks. Song a composite of cat-like squeaky wails and cries and hoarse low notes.

Distribution and population
Gymnomyza samoensis occurs on Savai`i and `Upolu, Samoa, and may have occurred formerly on Tutuila, American Samoa (it was collected there in the 1920's). In 1984, it was common in preferred habitat on `Upolu (Bellingham and Davis 1988) but, more recently, it appears to have become rarer. For example, it was not recorded by two main-island surveys (Lovegrove et al. 1992, Park et al. 1992) nor by offshore island surveys in 1999 (Freifeld et al. in press), and only one individual was recorded at the proposed conservation area at Uafato in 1997 (Beichle 1997b). Targeted surveys in 2005-6 indicate that it is widespread in native forest, though now largely absent from the lowlands. The population is thought to be little more than 500 individuals (Tipamaa in litt. 2007). There is concern that small, increasingly fragmented subpopulations may not be viable (H. Freifeld in litt. 1999).

Population justification
Tipanaa (in litt. 2007) indicates a population size of c.500 individuals, which is best placed in the band 250-999 mature individuals. This equates to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
The species is suspected to be undergoing a moderate decline owing to habitat degradation and predation by introduced mammals, which is on-going.

This large nectarivore occurs in foothill and montane forest, being found in greatest densities in craters at high altitude in the least disturbed forest (Bellingham and Davis 1988). It has also been observed in an area of cinder cone, heathland scrub, at forest edge, in wet forest at 760 m (Reed 1980) and on steep slopes along rivers (Beichle in prep.). It has been observed feeding on a wide range of flowers trees including the flowers of the coral trees Erythrina spp., mistletoe, heliconia, ginger, banana and some orchids species (R. Stirnemann in litt. 2012). Insects are also an important part of the diet and are the main food source in the dry season. During breeding a simple nest is constructed in a tree, at varying heights, and a single egg is laid. In the nest, the chick is feed invertebrates insects and geckos. The chick continues to be fed 2 months after fledging (R. Stirnemann in litt. 2012).

Slash-and-burn cultivation threatens remaining areas of upland forest, as farmers use forestry roads from heavily logged lowland forests to gain access to formerly inaccessible land (Bellingham and Davis 1988). The species is also likely to have suffered following cyclones Ofa and Val in 1990 and 1991, when canopy cover was reduced from 100% to 27% (Elmqvist et al. 1994). Forest quality is further reduced by the invasion of highly aggressive non-native trees, whose spread is aided by hurricanes (H. Freifeld in litt. 1999), and by reafforestation with exotic trees like Pinus and Eucalyptus instead of native trees (Beichle in prep.). Ongoing research has found that forest loss and degradation has continued within the species range, and that predation rates by introduced rats appear to be higher in areas with modified habitat (R. Stirnemann in litt. 2012). Predation by introduced rats Rattus likely to be having a significant impact on the species (R. Stirnemann in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
A species recovery plan has been published (MNRE 2006). It occurs in some proposed and a few existing protected areas, but these have suffered cyclone damage and the O Le Pupu Pu`e National Park on `Upolu is threatened by logging and cattle-farming (Beichle and Maelzer 1985, Bellingham and Davis 1988). Field surveys were carried out in 2005 and 2006 identifying priority areas for the species (U. Beichle in litt. 2006). Ongoing research is being carried out (2010-2013), looking at reproductive success and the effect of habitat modification on nest predation (R. Stirnemann in litt. 2012).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys, monitor its distribution and population numbers and gather further information on its life-history and habitat requirements (Freifeld 1999). Investigate threats (Freifeld 1999). Identify important sites and establish a network of long-term monitoring stations in areas of protected forest (Freifeld 1999). Increase local involvement in its study and conservation (Freifeld 1999). Address the problem of introduced plants (H. Freifeld in litt. 1999) and of government reforestation with exotic species (Beichle in prep.). Survey suitable habitat on Tutuila, American Samoa, to investigate its status there. Assess the possibility of developing a captive breeding programme.

Beichle, U. 1997. Report on a proposed conservation area at Uafato, 'Upolu, Samoa. Studies on the avifauna.

Beichle, U. and Baumann, S. 2003. Die Landvoegel der Samoa-Inseln. TenDenZen 1-2: 1-156.

Beichle, U.; Maelzer, M. 1985. A conservation programme for Western Samoa. In: Diamond, A.W.; Lovejoy, T.E. (ed.), Conservation of tropical forest birds, pp. 297-299. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Bellingham, M.; Davis, A. 1988. Forest bird communities in Western Samoa. Notornis 35: 117-128.

Elmqvist, T.; Rainey, W. E.; Pierson, E. D.; Cox, P. A. 1994. Effects of tropical cyclones Ofa and Val on the structure of a Samoan lowland rain forest. Biotropica 26: 384-391.

Freifeld, H. 1999. Samoa bird studies - preliminary ideas for O Le Siosiomaga Society, Inc..

Freifeld, H. B.; Steadman, D. W.; Sailer, J. K. 2001. Birds on offshore islands in Samoa. Journal of Field Ornithology 72: 72-85.

Lovegrove, T.; Bell, B.; Hay, R. 1992. The indigenous wildlife of Western Samoa: impacts of Cyclone Val and a recovery management strategy. New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington.

MNRE. 2006. Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment, Apia, Samoa.

Park, G.; Hay, R.; Whistler, A.; Lovegrove, T. 1992. The conservation of biological diversity in the coastal lowlands of Western Samoa. New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington.

Reed, S. 1980. Birds of Savai'i, Western Samoa. Notornis 27: 151-159.

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

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A.

Freifeld, H., Tipamaa, .., Beichle, U., Stirnemann, R.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Gymnomyza samoensis. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

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 - Mao (Gymnomyza samoensis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Meliphagidae (Honeyeaters)
Species name author (Hombron & Jacquinot, 1841)
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,200 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species