Countries of Occurrence:
Portugal - Azores
Facilitators / Compilers/s:
Cryptolestes azoricus is an endemic species from Sta. Maria (Azores, Portugal). It has a very small extent of occurrence (EOO = 4 km²) and area of occupancy (AOO = 4 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 major land-use change in the last 100 years. The species occurs only at one location. Therefore, we suggest as future measures of conservation: (1) regular monitoring of the species; and (2) removal of invasive plants and reforestation with native trees. Based upon the small geographic range of the species with only one location and continuing decline of its habitat area and quality, it is assessed as Critically Endangered.
Cryptolestes azoricus is a single island endemic species from Sta. Maria (Azores, Portugal) (Borges et al. 2010). This species is only known from the original Holotype for which there is no precise location in the island, but possibly is located in the small remnant of native forest at Pico Alto Natural Forest reserve. The size of its remaining native habitat is 0.09 km², but the AOO is 4 km². Its extent of occurrence (EOO) is therefore also 4 km².
The species is very rare and only known from a single possible sustainable subpopulation. A continuing decline in the number of mature individuals is inferred from recent past deforestation and the ongoing habitat degradation due to invasions of alien plants.
The species possibly occurs in the single native forests patch of S. Maria, surrounded by plantations of exotic trees and pastures. This species has an altitudinal range between 400 and 500 m. This is a predator that lives under bark of native trees.
In the past, the species has probably strongly declined due to major deforestation (Triantis et al. 2010). The most important ongoing threats to this species are Cryptomeria japonica wood & pulp plantations management andthe spread of invasive plants (Hedychium gardnerianum and Pittosporum undulatum) that 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 decline as a consequence of climate change (increasing number of droughts and habitat shifting & alteration), which may drive this species to extinction, because it is depending on humid forests.
The species is not protected by regional law. Its habitat is in a regionally protected area (Natural Park of Santa Maria). The Santa Maria 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 in the surrounding areas of Pico Alto (S, Maria) 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. A general monitoring scheme for the invertebrate community in the habitat is in place, but the population of this particular species and its habitat needs to be monitored in more detail. Monitoring every ten years using the BALA protocol will inform about habitat quality (see e.g. Gaspar et al. 2011).