Paulo A.V. Borges
Lamelas-Lopez, L.; Amorim, I.R.
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Cedrorum azoricus is endemic to Azores, occurring in three islands with two subspecies. It has a relatively small extent of occurrence (EOO = 12,300 km²) and reduced area of occupancy (AOO = 40 km²). There is a continuing decline in the EOO, AOO, extent and quality of habitat as well as the number of mature individuals as a result of the invasions of non-native plants. The species is particularly restricted and the subpopulation of Santa Maria is very low in number of individuals. In the past, the species has probably strongly declined due to changes in habitat size and quality and its large body size. Some of the most important sites in Terceira and Pico are still pristine. Therefore, we suggest as future measures of conservation: (1) regular monitoring of the species; and (2) control of invasive species namely Hedychium gardnerianum. The species is assessed as Endangered (EN).
Cedrorum azoricus is an endemic species with two subspecies, C. a. azoricus present in Terceira and Santa Maria islands, and C. a. caveirensis restricetd to Pico island (Azores, Portugal) (Borges et al. 2010). The species is known from Natural Forest Reserves of Biscoito da Ferraria, Caldeira Sta. Bárbara e Mistérios Negros, Terra Brava (Terceira), Caveiro and Mistério da Prainha (Pico) and Pico Alto (S. Maria). The extent of occurrence (EOO) is ca 12,300 km² and the maximum estimated area of occupancy (AOO) is 40 km².
The species is particularly restricted and the subpopulation of Santa Maria is very low in number of individuals. A continuing decline in the number of mature individuals is inferred from monitoring schemes (never sampled in S. Maria after its description, in spite of several sampling efforts in the last ten years), and from the ongoing habitat degradation due to invasions of alien plants. This species is assessed here as severely fragmented as at least 50% of its population can be found in subpopulations that are 1) smaller than would be required to support a viable population, and 2) separated from other habitat patches by a large distance. In fact, the species occurs in fragments that are isolated in a matrix of pastures.
Cedrorum azoricus has two subspecies, C. a. azoricus present in Terceira and Santa Maria islands, occurs in native forests of high altitude (altitudinal range between 500 and 1000 m) ("cloud-zone forests"; dominated by Juniperus brevifolia, Ilex perado subsp. azorica and Laurus azorica), and C. a. caveirensis, restricted to Pico island, occurs also in native forests (dominated by Juniperus brevifolia) (altitudinal range between 800 and 1200 m) (Borges and Serrano 1993; Borges et al. 2010). It is a nocturnal predator that lives in the soil. In both Terceira and Pico islands it occurs mostly in sites with deep crevices in hyper-humid forest.
In the past, the species has probably strongly declined due to changes in habitat size and quality and its large body size (Terzopoulou et al. 2015). Ongoing invasion of an invasive plant species (Hedychium gardnerianum) in Terceira and Pico and in addition Pittosporum undulatum in Santa Maria, are major threats since these plant species are changing the habitat structure in the main native forest, namely decreasing the cover of bryophytes and ferns in the soil and promoting the spread of other plants. Based on Ferreira et al. (2016) the habitat will further decline as a consequence of climate change (increasing number of droughts and habitat shifting & alteration).
The species is protected by regional law (RAA 2012). Its habitat is in regionally protected areas (Natural Parks of Terceira, Pico and Santa Maria). The Terceira Natural Park administration is currently starting control measures of the invasive plants. Further spread of invasive plants needs to be stopped in order to avoid any future declines of the species. Degraded habitats should be restored and a strategy needs to be developed to address the future threat by climate change. A habitat management plan is needed and anticipated to be developed during the coming years. Further research is needed into its ecology and life history in order to find extant specimens and obtain information on population size, distribution and trends. It is also necessary an area-based management plan and a monitoring plan for the invertebrate community in the habitat in order to contribute to perform a species potential recovery plan in the island of Santa Maria. Monitoring every ten years using the BALA protocol will inform about habitat quality (see e.g. Gaspar et al. 2011).