Tag Archives: Mariana Islands

Erythrura sp. ‘Rota’

Mariana Parrot Finch (Erythrura sp.)

The Mariana Parrot Finch is known only from a subfossil humerus that was recovered from deposits on the island of Rota in the Mariana Islands; this single bone can be referred to that genus based on several characters but is larger than that of any congeneric species.

The species may have reached a length of about 15 cm, making it one of the largest members of its whole family; it was very likely most closely related to the Blue-faced Parrotfinch (Erythrura trichroa (Kittlitz)) (see depiction), a species that still occurs in parts of Micronesia today. [1]

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References:

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinct and extirpated birds from Rota, Mariana Islands. Micronesia 25(1): 71-84. 1992

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Blue-faced Parrotfinch (Erythrura trichroa)

Depiction from: ‘F. H. von Kittlitz: Über einige noch unbeschriebene Vögel von der Insel Luzon, den Carolinen und den Marianen. Mémoires présentés à l’Académie Impériale des Sciences de St. Petersbourg par divers Savants et lus dans ses Assemblées 2: 1-10. 1835’

(public domain)

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edited: 09.11.2021

Anatidae gen. & sp. ‘Mariana Islands’

Rota Duck (Anatidae gen. & sp.)

The Rota Duck is known so far only from subfossil bones that were recovered from deposits on the island of Rota in the Mariana Islands.

The species was small and probably flightless, not much else is known about it so far. [1]

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References:

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinct and extirpated birds from Rota, Mariana Islands. Micronesia 25(1): 71-84. 1992

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edited: 10.11.2021

Rhipidura rufifrons ssp. uraniae Oustalet

Guam Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons ssp. uraniae)

The Guam Rufous Fantail is one of the victims of the Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis (Merrem in Bechstein)), a snake species that was introduced to Guam probably sometimes during the 1940s resulting in the devastating loss of nearly all native bird species.

Like so many other bird species from guam, this one was last seen during the 1985s, it is now extinct.

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The Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons (Latham)), if treated as a single species, occurs from eastern Australia to New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and parts of Micronesia; however, this species is a candidate for splitting, which would lead to the Guam Rufous Fantail being treated as a distinct, monotypic species, while the other two remaining subspecies found in the Mariana Islands today (the one from Saipan Island is depicted below) would be regarded to as another, closely related one.

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The name that the Chamorro, the native inhabitans of the Mariana Islands, gave this bird is Chichirika, this name is now apparently used for the Eurasian Tree Sparow (Passer montanus (L.)), a species that was imported to the Mariana Islands.

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Saipan Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons ssp. saipanensis Hartert)

Photo: Peter

(under creative commons license (2.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

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edited: 30.10.2020

Succinea guamensis Pfeiffer

Guam Amber Snail (Succinea guamensis)

The Guam Amber Snail was described in 1857, it is thought to be endemic to the island of Guam, Mariana Islands.

The species appears to be extinct now.

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According to another source this species is said to also inhabit Koror, Palau Islands as well as the island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia, the specimens collected from there, however, are somewhat smaller that those from Guam. [1]

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References:

[1] O. F. von Moellendorff: The land shells of the Caroline Islands. Journal of Malacology 7: 101-126. 1900

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edited: 26.11.2018

Porphyrio sp. ‘Rota’

Rota Swamphen (Porphyrio sp.)

Since the undescribed Tinian Swamphen (Porphyrio sp. ‘Tinian’) apparently was a flightless species, it is rather unlikely that the same species also inhabited Rota, thus the Rotan birds almost certainly were a distinct, though closely related species. [1]

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It might be of interest that the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus (Temminck)) apparently is trying to reestablish a population in Micronesia. [2]

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References:  

[1] D. W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006
[2] D. W. Buden; J. Wichep; S. Fal’Mngar: First record of Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio in the Federated States of Micronesia, with remarks on vagrants and recently established populations of rallids in Micronesia. Bulletin of the British Ornthologists’ Club 131(1): 59-63. 2011

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edited: 01.09.2020

Vini sp. ‚Guam‘

Guam Lorikeet (Vini sp.)  

This form is known from subfossil bones that were excavated from the deposits of the Ritidian Cave on the island of Guam, Mariana Islands. [1]  

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The assignment of these bones to the genus Vini is debatable, they may well belong to a distinct genus.  

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References:  

[1] Gregory K. Pregill; David W. Steadman: The prehistory and biogeography of terrestrial vertebrates on Guam, Mariana Islands. Diversity and Distributions 15(6): 983–996. 2009  

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edited: 23.03.2018

Acrocephalus nijoi (Yamashina)

Aguiguan Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus nijoi 

This species, formerly considered a subspecies of the Nightingale Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus luscinius (Quoy & Gaimard)) from Guam, is restricted to the tiny island of Aguiguan (also known as Aguigan or Aguijan; or Goat Island), which lies to the south of Saipan in the Mariana Islands chain. [3][4]  

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The Aguiguan Reed-Warbler differs from the Nightingale Reed Warbler by its much less warm-toned upperparts, the darker flanks and belly, and the slightly shorter bill. [3]  

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The island of Aguiguan is overrun with introduced goats, an eradication program conducted in 1990 was only partially successful, and the goat population on Aguijan in 1998 remained at an estimated 1500 animals. The feral goats affect the native forest by causing severe erosion and removing the understory, which is becoming dominated by the aggressively invasive Shrub Verbena (Lantana camara L.).  

The reed-warbler population was estimated at only about four to 15 birds in the mid-1980s. [1]  

The species was believed extinct since 1985, but was rediscovered in 1992, when two males were heard singing [2]  

The Aguiguan Reed-Warbler was not seen since and is now believed to be probably finally extinct. [5]  

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References:

[1] J. Engbring; F. L Ramsay; V. J. Wildman: Micronesian forest bird survey, 1982: Saipan Tinian, Aguijan, and Rota. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Report 1986 
[2] Robert J. Craig; Ravi Chandran: Wildlife species recorded during the Aguiguan Expedition: 20-25 May, 1992. In: Robert J. Craig: The Aguiguan Expedition. Proceedings of a Symposium held at Northern Marianas College 1993 
[3] Peter Kennerly; David Pearson: Reed and Bush Warblers. Christopher Helm 2010 
[4] Takema Saitoh; Alice Cibois; Sayaka Kobayash; Eric Pasquet; Jean-Claude Thibault: The complex systematics of the Acrocephalus of the Mariana Islands, western Pacific. Emu 112(4): 343–349. 2012 
[5] Fred Amidon; Richard J. Camp; Ann P. Marshall; Thane K. Pratt: Terrestrial bird population trends on Aguiguan (Goat Island), Mariana Islands. Bird Conservation International 24(4): 505-517. 2014

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edited: 02.10.2020

Partula desolata Baumann & Kerr

Desolate Tree-Snail (Partula desolata)

This species was described in 2013 based on subfossil shells that were recovered from Holocene deposits on the island of Rota, Mariana Islands.

The species occurred sympatrically with the Humped Tree-Snail (Partula gibba Férussac), which, however, still survives until today.

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References:

[1] Scott Baumann; Alexander M. Kerr: Partula desolata sp. nov. (Pulmonata: Partulidae), an extinct land snail from Rota, Mariana Islands, micronesia. Micronesica 5: 1-2. 2013

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edited: 18.06.2019

Neptis guamensis Swinhoe

Guam Sailor (Neptis guamensis)

The Guam Sailor was described in 1916 and was not seen since, however, the origin of the type material seems to be questionable.

“The type locality seems hihly improbable and the author’s brief description might apply to several of the Malaysian subspecies.
None in BMHN.” [1]

The species may have been identical with the Common Sailor (Neptis hylas (L.)) (see photo) respectively one of its several subspecies.

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References:

[1] J. N. Elliot: An analysis of the Eurasian and Australian Neptini (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) Entomology Supplement 15: 1-155. 1969

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Common Sailor (Neptis hylas)

Photo: Jee & Rani Nature Photography 

(under creative commons license (4.0))
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

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edited: 13.04.2019

Acrocephalus luscinius (Quoy & Gaimard)

Nightingale Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus luscinius)  

The Nightingale Reed Warbler was an endemic species of Guam, where it was called Ga’kaliso, or Ga’karriso in Chamorro, the language of the native inhabitants.  The species reached a size of about 17 cm.  

The Nightingale Reed Warbler inhabited dense reed thickets in freshwater- and brackish marshlands, which, during the 20th century, were largely drained. Hence the reasons for the extinction of this species lie mainly in the extensive destruction of its habitat. The unintentional introduction of the Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis (Merrem)), which has led to the extinction of nearly all of Guam’s native bird species, plays a minor role here.  

The last individuals were seen in the year 1969.  

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The island of Alamagan in the north of the Mariana Archipelago is still harboring a smaller population of reed warblers (about 300 birds), which hitherto have been assigned without any reservation to this species (resp. formerly subspecies), which, however, in a biogeographical sense must be considered completely impossible (hereto see map).  The birds from the island of Alamagan are either most closely related to the species from Alamagan’s neighbor island, Pagan, the Pagan Nightingale Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus yamashinaeTakatsukasa), or even represent a distinct species.  

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The reed warbler populations of all other islands in the Mariana island chain were until recently treated as subspecies of this species, but are now considered as distinct species.  

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References:  

[1] H. Douglas Pratt, Phillip L. Bruner, Delwyn G. Berrett: A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press 1987 
[2] James D. Reichel; Gary J. Wiles; Phil O. Glass: Island extinctions: the case of the endangered Nightingale Reed-Warbler. Wilson Bull. 104(1): 44-54. 1992 
[3] David Pearson; Peter Kennerly: Reed and Bush Warblers. Christopher Helm 2009 [4] Alice Cibois; Jon S. Beadell; Gary R. Graves; Eric Pasquet; Beth Slikas; Sarah A. Sonsthagen; Jean-Claude Thibault; Robert C. Fleischer: Charting the course of reed-warblers across the Pacific islands. Journal of Biogeography 38(10): 1963-1975. 2011

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reed warbler species of the Marianas known from specimens

Depiction: Alexander Lang

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edited: 17.10.2020

Zapornia sp. ‚Tinian‘

Tinian Swamphen (Zapornia sp.)  

The about 100 km² large island of Tinian in the Mariana island chain was once the home of yet another small, flightless species of rail, which is known today only from subfossil remains.  

These harmless little birds certainly were among the first victims of the dogs, pigs, and rats that had been introduced to the islands by the first human settlers. [1]  

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The island of Saipan, Tinian’s neighbor, very likely once harbored its own endemic species of the same genus, but remains are not known so far. [1]  

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References:  

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006  

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edited: 20.03.2018

Gallirallus sp. ‚Saipan‘

Saipan Rail (Gallirallus sp.)

This up to now undescribed species is only known from subfossil bones found on Saipan Island in the Mariana Archipelago.  

The species resembled the only surviving endemic rail species of the Mariana Islands, the Guam rail (Gallirallus owstoni (Rotschild)). [1]

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References:

[1] David W. Steadman: Extinction and Biogeography of Tropical Pacific Birds. University of Chicago Press 2006

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edited: 02.05.2021