Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Slow life history traits in an endangered tropical island bird, the Ma’oma’o

  • REBECCA L. STIRNEMANN (a1), MURRAY A. POTTER (a1), DAVID BUTLER (a2) and EDWARD O. MINOT (a1)

Summary

An effective conservation strategy for a species requires knowledge of its biology and life history. This applies to the endangered Ma’oma’o Gymnomyza samoensis, a honeyeater endemic to the Samoan archipelago. Now locally extinct in American Samoa, this species is currently found only in declining numbers on the islands of Upolu and Savai’i in Samoa. Despite being endangered, the life history and breeding behaviour of the Ma’oma’o has not been documented previously. Here we examine Ma’oma’o nesting and breeding biology, which are unique among studied honeyeaters and unusual for passerines in general. Ma’oma’o lay only a single egg per clutch and have an extended breeding season that occurs outside the rainy season and peaks during budburst. Allometric analysis of the length of the nesting period of different honeyeaters versus adult body weight showed that Ma’oma’o remain in the nest for a longer period than expected for their body size. The post-fledging dependency period of 2.5–3 months was also extended compared to other honeyeater species. No Ma’oma’o were observed re-nesting after successfully raising a chick, though pairs attempted to re-nest following breeding failure. Despite the extended breeding season, the maximum annual reproductive capacity of Ma’oma’o is limited by their one-egg clutch and failure to nest again after fledging one chick. We discuss how these slow life history traits can influence conservation strategies, affect monitoring and limit recovery.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Author for correspondence; email: rstirnemann@gmail.com

References

Hide All
Ainley, D., Sydeman, W. and Norton, J. (1995) Upper trophic level predators indicate interannual negative and positive anomalies in the California current food web. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 118: 6979.
Anders, A. D., Dearborn, D. C., Faaborg, J. and Thompson, F. R. (1997) Juvenile survival in a population of neotropical migrant birds. Conserv. Biol. 11: 698707.
Anderson, S. (2003) Breeding biology of bellbirds (Anthornis melanura) on Tiritiri Matangi Island. Notornis 50: 7582.
Armstrong, D. P. and Pyke, G. H. (1991) Seasonal patterns of reproduction in heathland honeyeaters are not responses to changing nectar availability. Auk 108: 99107.
Ashmole, N. P. (1963) The regulation of numbers of tropical oceanic birds. Ibis 103b: 458473.
Bell, H. L. (1982) Abundance and seasonality of the savanna avifauna at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Ibis 124: 252274.
Beruldsen, G. (2003) Australian birds: their nests and eggs. Kenmore Hills, Queensland, Australia: G. and E. Beruldsen.
BirdLife International (2012) Gymnomyza samoensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
Clarke, M. (1988) The reproductive-behavior of the bell miner Manorina-melanophrys . Emu 88: 88100.
Clarke, M. F., Schipper, C., Boulton, R. and Ewen, J. (2003) The social organization and breeding behaviour of the yellow-faced honeyeater Lichenostomus chrysops - a migratory passerine from the Southern Hemisphere. Ibis 145: 611623.
Clarke, R. H. and Clarke, M. F. (2000) The breeding biology of the crescent honeyeater Phylidonyris pyrrhoptera at Wilsons promontory, Victoria. Emu 100: 115.
Clavero, M., Brotons, L., Pons, P. and Sol, D. (2009) Prominent role of invasive species in avian biodiversity loss. Biol. Cons. 142: 20432049.
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Christie, D. A. (2008) Handbook of the birds of the world. Volume 13: Penduline-tits to shrikes. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.
del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D. A. and de Juana, E. (2014) Handbook of the birds of the world alive. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.
Dilks, P. (2004) Population status, breeding and ecology of Chatham Island Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae chathamensis). Notornis 51: 217226.
Dow, D. (1978) Breeding biology and development of the young of Manorina melanocephala, a communally breeding honeyeater. Emu 78: 207222.
Drake, D. R. and Hunt, T. L. (2009) Invasive rodents on islands: integrating historical and contemporary ecology. Biol. Invasions 11: 14831487.
Ford, H. A. and Trémont, S. (2000) Life history characteristics of two Australian honeyeaters (Meliphagidae). Aust. J. Zool. 48: 2132.
Franklin, D. and Noske, R. (2000) The nesting biology of the brown honeyeater Lichmera indistincta in the Darwin region of northern Australia with notes on tidal flooding of nests. Corella 24: 3844.
Franklin, D., Smales, I., Miller, M. and Menkhorst, P. (1995) The reproductive-biology of the helmeted honeyeater, Lichenostomus melanops cassidix . Wildlife Res. 22: 173191.
Freeman, B. G. and Mason, N. A. (2014) New Guinean passerines have globally small clutch-sizes. Emu 114: 304308.
Frith, H. J. and Davies, S. J. J. F. (1961) Breeding seasons of birds in subcoastal Northern Territory. Emu 61: 97111.
Gadgil, M. and Bossert, W. H. (1970) Life historical consequences of natural selection. Am. Nat. 104: 124.
Hau, M. (2001) Timing of breeding in variable environments: tropical birds as model systems. Horm. Behav. 40: 281290.
Hau, M., Ricklefs, R. E., Wikelski, M., Lee, K. A. and Brawn, J. D. (2010) Corticosterone, testosterone and life-history strategies of birds. Proc. R. Soc. B. 277: 32033212.
Higgins, P. J., Peter, J. M. and Steele, W. K., eds. (2001) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds: Volume 5: Tyrant-flycatchers to chats. Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press.
Jetz, W., Sekercioglu, C. H. and Böhning-Gaese, K. (2008) The worldwide variation in avian clutch size across species and space. PLoS Biol. 6: 26502657.
Jouventin, P. and Dobson, F. S. (2002) Why breed every other year? The case of albatrosses. Proc. R. Soc. B. 269: 19551961.
Komdeur, J., Magrath, M. J. L. and Krackow, S. (2002) Pre-ovulation control of hatchling sex ratio in the Seychelles warbler. Proc. R. Soc. B. 269: 10671072.
Maher, W. (1988) Breeding biology of the brown-backed Honeyeater Ramsayornis-modestus (meliphagidae) in Northern Queensland. Emu 88: 190194.
Martins, T. L. F. (1997) Fledging in the common swift, Apus apus: weight-watching with a difference. Anim. Behav. 54: 99108.
Michaud, T. and Leonard, M. (2000) The role of development, parental behavior, and nestmate competition in fledging of nestling tree swallows. Auk 117: 9961002.
MNRE (2006) Recovery plan for the ma’oma’o or mao (Gymnomyza samoensis): Samoa’s largest forest honeyeater: 2006-2016. Samoa: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
Morrissey, M. L., Shafer, M. A., Postawko, S. E. and Gibson, B. (1995) The Pacific rain gage rainfall database. Water Res. Res. 31: 21112113.
Norris-Caneda, K. H. and Elliott, J. D. (1998) Sex identification in raptors using PCR. J. Raptor Res. 32: 278280.
Noske, R. (1998) Breeding biology, demography and success of the rufous-banded honeyeater, Conopophila albogularis, in Darwin, a monsoonal tropical city. Wildlife Res. 25: 339356.
Noske, R. A. (2012) The breeding seasons of birds on Timor. Kukila 12: 2738.
Noske, R. and Carlson, A. (2011) The breeding biology of the dusky honeyeater “Myzomela obscura” in the Northern Territory and the importance of nectar in the diet of nestling honeyeaters. Aust. Field Ornithol. 28: 97113.
Oliver, D. L. (1998) The breeding behaviour of the endangered regent honeyeater, Xanthomyza phrygia, near Armidale, New South Wales. Austral. J. Zool. 46: 153170.
R Development Core Team (2011) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
Russell, E. M. (2000) Avian life histories: is extended parental care the southern secret? Emu 100: 377399.
Sæther, B.-E. and Bakke, Ø. (2000) Avian life history variation and contribution of demographic traits to the population growth rate. Ecol. 81: 642653.
Smales, I. J., Quin, B., Menkhorst, P. W. and Franklin, D. C. (2009) Demography of the helmeted honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops cassidix). Emu 109: 352359.
Smith, A. J. and Robertson, B. I. (1978) Social-organization of bell miners. Emu 78: 169178.
Whistler, W. A. (1992) Vegetation of Samoa and Tonga. Pacif. Sci. 46: 159178.
Whistler, W. A. (2004) Rainforest trees of Samoa. Honolulu, Hawaii: Isle Botanica.
Williams, J. B., Miller, R. A., Harper, J. M. and Wiersma, P. (2010) Functional linkages for the pace of life, life-history, and environment in birds. Integ. Comp. Biol. 50: 855868.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Bird Conservation International
  • ISSN: 0959-2709
  • EISSN: 1474-0001
  • URL: /core/journals/bird-conservation-international
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed