Bird Conservation International



Population trends of Mariana Crow Corvus kubaryi on Rota, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands


SHELDON PLENTOVICH a1c1, JOHN M. MORTON a2, JONATHAN BART a3, RICHARD J. CAMP a4, MICHAEL LUSK a5, NATHAN JOHNSON a6p1 and ERIC VANDERWERF a1
a1 Department of Zoology, Edmondson Hall 152, 2538 McCarthy Mall, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822-2279, U.S.A.
a2 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 2139, Soldotna, AK 99669, U.S.A.
a3 Snake River Field Station, 970 Lusk Street, Boise, ID 83706, U.S.A.
a4 Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (University of Hawaii), U.S. Geological Survey, Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, PO Box 44, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718, U.S.A.
a5 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, 1611 North Second Avenue, Ajo, AZ 85321, U.S.A.
a6 CNMI-Division of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 1397, Rota, MP 96951

Article author query
plentovich s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
morton jm   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
bart j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
camp rj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
lusk m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
johnson n   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
vanderwerf e   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

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)


Correspondence:
c1 Author for correspondence; E-mail: plentovi@hawaii.edu
p1 Current address: USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, U.S.A.