a1 Conservation Research Group, Dept of Biological Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University Chester Street, Manchester M1 5GD, U.K
The island of Sumba was visited in 1989 and 1992 with the aim of collecting data on its avifauna. The endemic and other restricted-range bird species are very poorly known and, potentially, at great risk from extinction due to habitat change. Using standardized methods, habitat and bird census data were collected in eight forest areas. Analysis of the habitat data shows that most of the restricted-range species are forest-dependent. The exception is Turnix everetti (Sumba Buttonquail), which is found in open grassland. Discriminant Function Analysis was used to define habitat associations in a more precise and objective way. The species with the most specific requirements are Ptilinopus dohertyi (Red-naped Fruit-dove) and Zoothera dohertyi (Chestnut-backed Thrush), which are associated with primary forest at high altitudes, and Cacatua sulphurea (Sulphur-crested Cockatoo) and Rhyticeros everetti (Sumba Hornbill), which prefer evergreen primary or mature secondary forest at low altitudes. The results of the bird censuses were combined with data on habitat cover from satellite photographs to produce estimates of total population sizes. Among the rarest and most endangered species on Sumba are three which are represented by endemic subspecies: C. sulphurea (estimated population 3,200 birds), Eclectus roratus (Eclectus Parrot) (1,900), Tanygnathus megalorynchos (Great-billed Parrot) (1,700). The rarest endemic species is R. everetti, with a population of approximately 6,500. It is suggested that the census method used – point counts With distance estimates to bird contacts – is the best compromise for multi-species surveys in tropical forests.