Archived 2017 topics: Ouvea Parakeet (Eunymphicus uvaeensis): downlist to Vulnerable?

BirdLife Species factsheet for Ouvea Parakeet:


Endemic to the island of Ouvea, French Polynesia, Ouvea Parakeet, Eunymphicus uvaeensis, is currently listed as Endangered under criterion B1ab(iii) as it was believed to be restricted to a small area of declining forest (see BirdLife International 2017). A decline in the quality of forest on the island may not be affecting the species, though, as the population trend of this species is actually a relatively rapid increase. Barré et al. (2010) reported that the population density of Ouvea Parakeet increased from 10 birds per km2 in 1993 to 34 birds per km2 in 2009, which equates to a 29% increase. Additionally, the highest numbers of this individual are found around gardens containing papaya, so the species may actually prefer some degradation of habitat as long as there is a food source available. Thus it may not be appropriate to list this species as Endangered any more on the basis of a decline in the area/quality of habitat.

Given that the population trend is an increase the species would not warrant listing under either criterion A or C, and no quantitative assessment of extinction risk exists for this species (to the best of our knowledge) so it would not warrant listing under criterion E. The population size has been estimated at 1,780 mature individuals in total (J. Theuerkauf in litt. 2016), which also is greater than the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under criterion D1 (<1,000 mature individuals).

However, the species may qualify as Vulnerable under criterion D2, as this species is found on only one very small island it could face threats from invasive species. There has been a suggestion that the introduced Coconut Lorikeet Trichoglossus haematodus, may act as competition for Ouvea Parakeet, but as their habitat requirements appear to be different (T. haematodus prefers open areas and coconut plantations) this seems unlikely (L. Verfaille in litt. 2007). However, one potential major threat to the Ouvea Parakeet is the Black Rat, Rattus rattus, which has just arrived on the island (J. Theuerkauf in litt. 2016). Before they arrived, experiments showed that egg-predation rates were four times higher on the island of Lifou (where R. rattus was present) compared to Ouvea (Robinet et al. 1998). Therefore, their arrival could have a major impact on the parakeet. Thus it appears that this species would at least warrant listing as Vulnerable under criterion D2 (found at ≤5 locations, with a plausible threat to drive the species to CR or EX in a short time). If there is any evidence to suggest that the arrival of rats onto the island has had a negative impact on the species, causing it to undergo a continuing decline, then the species may warrant retaining as Endangered under criteria B1ab(v); C2a(ii).

We therefore welcome any further information or comments, particularly regarding the recent arrival of rats onto the islands and the current population trend.



Barré, N.; Theuerkauf, J.; Verfaille, L.; Primot, P.; Saoumoé, M. 2010. Exponential population increase in the endangered Ouvéa Parakeet (Eunymphicus uvaeensis) after community-based protection from nest poaching. Journal of Ornithology 151(3): 695-701.

BirdLife International. 2017. Species factsheet: Eunymphicus uvaeensis. Downloaded from on 26/04/2017.

Robinet, O.; Craig, J. L.; Chardonnet, L. 1998. Impact of rat species in Ouvea and Lifou (Loyalty Islands) and their consequences for conserving the endangered Ouvea Parakeet. Biological Conservation 86: 223-232.

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3 Responses to Archived 2017 topics: Ouvea Parakeet (Eunymphicus uvaeensis): downlist to Vulnerable?

  1. Hello,

    the text needs a few corrections:
    1. Ouvea does not belong to French Polynesia but to New Caledonia (some 5000 km apart from each other)
    2. The species ventures into gardens to eat seeds of Pawpaw, but only if the garden is directly bordering to a forest. The species is an exclusive forest species and will not colonise other habitats. The forest on the island is also restricted, so there is little potential for much more increase. Besides, some people started killing birds in their gardens and there seems to be some effort to start poaching again.
    3. A better citation for the number of birds (instead of Theuerkauf in lit.) is: Legault, A., J. Theuerkauf, V. Chartendrault, S. Rouys, M. Saoumoé, L. Verfaille, F. Desmoulins, N. Barré & R. Gula. 2013. Using ecological niche models to infer the distribution and population size of parakeets in New Caledonia. Biological Conservation 167: 149-160.
    4. the correct name for the introduced lorikeet is (New Caledonian) Rainbow Lorikeet. It is no competition for Ouvea parakeets as it has a complete different diet (Theuerkauf et al. unpublished data). More of concern is that some lorikeets carry PBFD (see: Jackson, B., A. Lorenzo, J. Theuerkauf, A. Barnaud, T. Duval, P. Guichard, H. Bloc, A. Baouma, D. Stainton, S. Kraberger, S. Murphy, N. Clark, C. Dillon, T. Knight & A. Varsani. 2014. Preliminary surveillance for beak and feather disease virus in wild parrots of New Caledonia; implications of a reservoir species for Ouvea Parakeets. Emu 114: 283-289.) which might spill over to parakeet (however it is unkown if any lorikeet on Ouvea carry the disease).
    5. The wording for Rattus rattus is misleading. Two individuals of this species have been killed near the harbour, it is unknown if this species was able to establish on the island, at the moment no capture even near the harbour.

  2. Phil Gregory says:

    Good to hear Black Rat may not be established, that is a relief. Coconut Lorikeet (NC Rainbow) are brush-tongued nectar feeders so food competition seems unlikely. There is some local interest in protecting and encouraging the birds to feed on paw-paws in or very near the forest as they can derive income from visiting birders, I have found several landowners very helpful in this respect when I have brought tour groups here.
    I am always struck by how small a range this species has, very vulnerable to habitat loss, and surely qualifies as VU?

  3. Hannah Wheatley (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to adopt the proposed classifications outlined in the initial forum discussion.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 4 August, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from those in the initial proposal.

    The final 2017 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.