20 Sep 2011

The ecology of the Mao in Samoa

By BirdLife Pacific
Mao Gymnomyza samoensis is an endemic honeyeater found in Samoa which is classified as Endangered by BirdLife on behalf of the IUCN Red List because it has a small, fragmented range that is declining as the quality of its forest habitat diminishes. Unless urgent action is taken, these unique birds have a very high risk of going extinct in the near future. A new research project is seeking to gather ecological information on the factors that have led to the Moa’s current decline. “Already we have found the first nests and confirmed that each clutch consists of only one egg per nest”, said Ecologist Rebecca Stirnemann. “Cameras monitoring nests collected information on predation and feeding rates throughout the day and night”. Preliminary data suggest parents care for fledged young for long periods after fledging. Mao movements are also being monitored by tracking an individual’s movement with specially-made transmitters. During capture birds are also fitted with coloured bands which will enable individuals to be recognised in the field. Data from this project is enabling management programme to be developed in partnership with local communities to address threats to this species and bring about long-term population recovery.

The video above shows a rat predating a Mao nest and carrying off an egg.

This project is funded through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund with support from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MNRE) Samoa, the Conservation Department New Zealand and The Rufford Small Grants Programme. CEPF unites six global leaders who are committed to enabling nongovernmental and private sector organizations to help protect vital ecosystems: L’Agence Française de Développement; Conservation International; The Global Environmental Facility; The Government of Japan, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; The World Bank. For further information, please contact:

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