Archived 2011-2012 topics: Faichuk White-eye (Rukia ruki): request for information

Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012 [note that this has been moved back by about two months].

BirdLife species factsheet for Faichuk White-eye

Faichuk White-eye Rukia ruki is restricted to just four tiny islands in the Faichuk Group of Chuuk (=Truk) Lagoon in the Federated States of Micronesia. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the basis that its minute and fragmented range is in decline owing to on-going habitat loss. Its Extent of Occurrence (EOO) is estimated at just c.34 km2, while its Area of Occupancy (AOO) is estimated to be only c.4 km2.

This species’s range and habitat are thought to be in decline on the basis of past deforestation on many islands in Chuuk Lagoon. However, recent observations from Tol South suggest that little in the way of logging is now taking place there and that only subsistence-level timber extraction is occurring, owing to the topography of the island and areas of difficult terrain (C. Collins in litt. 2011). In addition, superstitious beliefs apparently prevent most islanders from visiting the top of the island (C. Collins in litt. 2011). As a result, the forests on the plateau of Tol South are apparently old-growth and relatively undisturbed (C. Collins in litt. 2007).

Further information is requested on the likely current trends in the species’s range and habitat. Any evidence that suggests the range, habitat and population are stable would probably make the species eligible for downlisting to Vulnerable under criteria D1 and D2, for which it would qualify based on a population estimate of fewer than 1,000 mature individuals and occurrence at fewer than six locations, which renders the species susceptible to stochastic events that could result in it being uplisted in a short period of time.

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2 Responses to Archived 2011-2012 topics: Faichuk White-eye (Rukia ruki): request for information

  1. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were sent by Chris Collins on 16 November 2011:

    In my opinion there would be no logic in the Monarch being treated as endangered and the White-eye as vulnerable, especially as the former is more widely distributed in the archipelago. The White-eye is on far fewer islands and anicodotal discussions with local people suggest the monarch can survive in less than perfect habitat.

  2. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were sent by Derek Scott on 8 September 2011:

    The Great Truk White-eye (Faichuk White-eye) is still common and easily found in the native forest on the summit plateau of Tol South. Mark Beaman and his group observed about 15 on 20 December 2005; we observed several parties totalling about 25 birds on 7 December 2008; and we again found several parties totalling about 20 birds on 5 December 2010. It seems that this bird is rarely encountered away from native forest, although two of my group in 2008 saw a single bird in ‘agricultural forest’ at low elevation on Tol South on 8 December 2008. If, as seems likely, the species is confined as a breeding bird to native forest, its range is absolutely minute. We did not see any recent signs of forest clearance on the summit plateau of Tol South, but I suspect that the only thing protecting this forest is its inaccessibility. There seems to be no easy route up to the summit plateau and there is no proper trail. I suspect that the islanders hardly ever go up there except when promised large tips by visiting bird-watchers who want guides.

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