The Wirebird Charadrius sanctaehelenae, a plover, is the only surviving bird species endemic to the South Atlantic Island of St Helena. The species is currently dependent on habitats that are wholly anthropogenic or extensively modified by human activity. A census carried out during 2005–2006 showed that the Wirebird has undergone a decline of more than 40% over a five-year period to a total of 235 individuals. The species now qualifies for re-classification as ‘Critically Endangered’. Vegetation surveys support the results of a previous study in suggesting that the decline may be associated with degradation of the Wirebird's favoured grassland habitat due to reduction of livestock numbers. Predation by introduced mammals and birds is also likely to be a factor but this remains unquantified. The Wirebird may face additional threats to its habitat in the future unless potential tourism-related development associated with the proposed construction of an airport on the island is closely regulated.
(Received August 22 2007)
(Accepted April 07 2008)