Paulo A.V. Borges
Facilitators / Compilers/s:
Phloeostiba azorica is an endemic species present in Flores, Pico, Graciosa, São Jorge, Terceira and S. Miguel islands (Azores, Portugal). It has a large extent of occurrence (EOO = ca 8,800km²) and a relatively small area of occupancy (AOO = 36 km²). The species is common and known from at least eight fragmented subpopulations in four islands. In the past, the species has probably strongly declined due to changes in habitat size and quality. The main threats to this species are currently invasive plant species spreading (e.g. Hedychium gardnerianum, Pittosporum undulatum), that are changing the structure of the forest decreasing the quality of the habitat and the managment of pulp plantations of Cryptomeria japonica. Based upon the small area of occupancy and decreasing in habitat quality it is assessed as Endangered.
Phloeostiba azorica is an endemic species present in Flores, Pico, Graciosa, São Jorge, Terceira and S. Miguel islands (Azores, Portugal) (Borges et al. 2010), known in Natural Forest Reserves of Mistério da Prainha (Pico), Pico Pinheiro (S. Jorge); Biscoito da Ferraria, Caldeira de Guilherme Moniz and Caldeira Sta. Bárbara e Mistérios Negros (Terceira); and Atalhada and Graminhais (S. Miguel). The extent of occurrence (EOO) is ca 8,800 km² and the maximum estimated area of occupancy (AOO) is 36 km².
The species is particularly abundant and subpopulations are known in Flores, Pico, Graciosa, São Jorge, Terceira and S. Miguel islands. There is an inferred declining in the population due to invasive plant species spreading (e.g. Hedychium gardnerianum, Pittosporum undulatum), that are changing the structure of the forest decreasing the quality of the habitat with impacts on the species. This species is assessed 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.
This species occurs in native forest patches in the islands of Flores, Pico, Graciosa, São Jorge, Terceira and S. Miguel islands (Azores), with an altitudinal range between 300 and 1200 m. It is a nocturnal predator that lives under bark of native trees and in the soil. Based on seasonal data from SLAM traps obtained in several islands between 2012 and 2016 (Borges et al. 2017), the adults are active in summer. This is an univoltine species.
In the past, the species has probably strongly declined due to changes in habitat size and quality (Triantis et al. 2010, Terzopoulou et al. 2015). One of the most important ongoing threats to this species is the management of pulp plantations of Cryptomeria japonica and the spread of invasive plants, namely Hedychium gardnerianum and Pittosporum undulatum that are changing the habitat structure, 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 not protected by regional law. Its habitat is in regionally protected areas (Natural Parks of Pico, São Jorge, Terceira and S. Miguel). 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 additional areas of native forest and in additional islands and obtain information on population size, distribution and trends. It is also necessary a monitoring plan for the invertebrate community in the habitat in order to contribute to perform a species potential recovery plan. A monitoring every ten years using the BALA protocol will inform about habitat quality (see e.g. Gaspar et al. 2011).