Upland Bird Communities on Santo, Vanuatu, South Pacific

TitleUpland Bird Communities on Santo, Vanuatu, South Pacific
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsKratter, AW, Kirchman, JJ, Steadman, DW
JournalWilson Journal of Ornithology

We surveyed indigenous landbirds at two upland, mostly forested sites in southwestern Santo, Vanuatu. One site (Wunarohaehare, 600-1,250 m elevation) lies on the western, rain-shadowed slope of Mt. Tabwemasana. The other (Tsaraepae, 500-700 m elevation) is 16 km to the south, on the southeastern, very wet slope of Peak Santo. These are the richest single-site bird communities yet surveyed in Vanuatu, with 30 species of resident birds recorded at each site, 27 of which were common to both sites, including 6 species endemic to Vanuatu. We judged that 12 of the shared species were common at both sites. The non-overlapping species were a megapode, a parrot, and four understory passerines. We present new data on vocalizations for four species endemic to Vanuatu (Ptilinopus tannensis, Todiramphus farquhari, Neolalage banksiana) or to Vanuatu plus New Caledonia (Clytorhynchus pachycephaloides). We found less seasonality in breeding than previously reported for Vanuatu. Most human impact at the sites today may be from non-native mammals (rats, cats, pigs, cows), along with low levels of hunting and forest clearing. Based on prehistoric bones from elsewhere in Vanuatu, we suspect that formerly the sites on Santo may have supported additional species of megapode, hawk, parrot, and starling.