Countries of Occurrence:
Portugal - Azores
Facilitators / Compilers/s:
Pilocepheus azoricus is an endemic species of the Azores (Portugal), known from the islands of Graciosa, Terceira, S. Miguel and Sta. Maria. From the available data, it has a relatively small Extent of Occurrence (11,075 km2 ), and a small Area of Occupancy (40 km2 ), but these are likely to be underestimates, as this species probably has a wider distribution through the soil component of the islands. It can be assumed that this species is affected by human activities and invasive plant species that alter the natural structure and composition of the soil, and future climatic changes and increased risk of droughts will also affect this species. The present situation of this species needs to be further assessed and further research is needed into its population, distribution, threats, ecology and life history; while conservation of natural habitats and invasive species control could potentially aid this species' conservation. However, despite the incomplete knowledge regarding this species population, distribution, threats and ecology, this species is unlikely to warrant listing under the most threatened Red List categories. Pending further information, the number of locations could be said to be relatively small, and so the species can be precautionarily assessed as Near Threatened.
Pilocepheus azoricus is an Azorean-endemic oribatid mite species known from Graciosa, Terceira, S. Miguel and Sta. Maria islands (Azores, Portugal) (Borges et al. 2010). It is known from a few natural areas. It is present in three Natural Forest Reserves; Caldeira Sta. Bárbara e Mistérios Negros (Terceira), Graminhais (S. Miguel) and Pico Alto (Sta. Maria). From the available data, the Extent of Occurrence (EOO) would be ca. 11,075 km² and the Area of Occupancy (AOO) would be 40 km².
No current population size estimates exist for this species. This species occurs on several islands and, as an oribatid mite, it is likely common and widespread in the soil habitat. Current Population Trend: Unknown.
The ecology and traits of this species are unknown. Oribatid mites are associated with organic matter in most terrestrial ecosystems, being found throughout the soil profile, in surface litter, on grasses, shrubs or in the bark and leaves of trees, among other habitats. Oribatida are also one of the most numerically dominant arthropod groups in the organic horizons of most soils (Behan-Pelletier 1999). This species has been collected mainly in native vegetation areas. Some specimens were collected from Selaginella kraussiana or from under Myrica faya. Systems: Terrestrial.
A lack of information regarding the present range of this species precludes an accurate assessment of potential threats. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that this species will be affected by future habitat declines as a consequence of climate change (Ferreira et al. 2016) and increased droughts. Other factors that degrade habitat quality, in the form of changes in the soil structure and composition, namely land use changes, agricultural practices, pesticides and nutrient loads or invasive plants, might also affect this species.
The species is not protected by regional law, but part of its habitat is in regionally protected areas (Natural Parks of Graciosa, Terceira, S. Miguel and Sta. Maria). Besides climate change and increased risk of droughts, land-use changes and invasive species are likely one of the main current and future threats faced. As such, conservation of native habitats and invasive species control could potentially aid this species' conservation. Further research is needed into its population, distribution, threats, ecology and life history, and it is necessary to develop a monitoring plan for the invertebrate community in order to contribute to the conservation of this species.