Population trends of Mariana Crow Corvus kubaryi on Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Endemic to the islands of Guam and Rota in the Mariana Islands, Mariana Crow Corvus kubaryi is the only corvid in Micronesia. Currently, it survives on Guam only because of translocation of individuals from Rota (1999–2003). Island-wide surveys in 1982 and 1995 on Rota yielded population estimates of 1,348 and 592 respectively, indicating a 56% decrease in only 13 years. A sharp decline in the only viable Mariana Crow population has serious implications for conservation efforts on Rota and for efforts to re-establish the Guam population. However, the validity of the apparent decline has been debated among scientists and government management agencies. We augmented the 1982 and 1995 island-wide VCP surveys with (1) an additional island-wide survey conducted in 1998, and (2) roadside surveys conducted during 1991–1993 and again during 1999–2002. We also outline historical changes in Rota's limestone forest based on aerial photographs and historical information. Data from all surveys indicate a significant decline in the Mariana Crow population. Declines occurred especially along the north-central coast and in the area east of the airport known as As Dudo in the 1990s, but the data indicate an island-wide decline over the entire span of the surveys. Introduced predators, human persecution, and habitat loss and degradation by anthropogenic and natural causes have all contributed to the decline. Long-term preservation of this species will require effective brown treesnake Boiga irregularis control, habitat protection, continued monitoring and research, and increased public education and awareness of Rota's rare and endangered species.(Received October 3 2003)
(Accepted November 3 2004)
c1 Author for correspondence; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
p1 Current address: USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, U.S.A.