Prosobonia cancellata

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Scolopacidae

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Prosobonia cancellata

Prosobonia cancellata is a chordate, or more specifically a bird, in the Scolopacidae family.

Prosobonia cancellata is commonly known (its common name) as the Tuamotu Sandpiper in English.

Prosobonia cancellata is classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Prosobonia cancellata's population trend was decreasing at last assessment, meaning its numbers are declining in the wild.

Species Authority: The species authority, or the name(s) of scientist(s) or person(s) who first described Prosobonia cancellata is (Gmelin, 1789) (IUCN Red List).

Summary: Binomial name Prosobonia cancellata
(Gmelin, 1789) Synonyms

Tringa cancellata Gmelin, 1789
Tringa parvirostris Peale, 1848
Aechmorhynchus cancellatus
Aechmorhynchus parvirostris
Prosobonia parvirostris

The Tuamotu Sandpiper, Prosobonia cancellata, is an endangered member of the large wader family Scolopacidae, that is endemic to the Tuamotu Islands in French Polynesia. It is sometimes placed in the monotypic genus Aechmorhynchus. A native name, apparently in the Tuamotuan language, is kivi-kivi.



The 15.5-16.5 cm long Tuamotu Sandpiper is a small, short-winged, mottled brown bird with more or less barred underparts. Its short sharp beak is more like that of an insectivorous passerine than a wader. There are two color phases which intergrade. Pale birds are medium brown above and white below, with light barring or spotting on the breast and whitish streaking on the head. The bold supercilium and the chin are also white. The retrices are brown with white tips and white triangular markings on the outer webs. Dark phase birds replace medium with darker brown and white with light buff or tawny white. The flanks are brown, and the entire underparts are heavily barred that color.

The iris is brown, the beak is blackish and the legs and feet are dirty yellow to dark olive grey; the toes are not webbed.

Females and males are alike, the former having a tendency to be slightly larger and paler on average.


Country Distribution: Prosobonia cancellata is found in the following countries:
    French Polynesia (Tuamotu Is.), Kiribati [RE]
(IUCN Red List).

Biome(s)/Ecosystem(s): IUCN lists the following as biomes for Prosobonia cancellata: Terrestrial (IUCN Red List).

Major Habitat(s): 3.5 Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry 10.1 Coastline - Rocky Shores 10.2 Coastline - Sand, Shingle or Pebble Shores (IUCN Red List).

Range: Prosobonia cancellata is extinct on Kiritimati (= Christmas Island), Kiribati, where the type-specimen was collected, but survives in the Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia, where it has apparently disappeared from many atolls although surveys are few. There are recent records from (north to south): Rangiroa, Niau (both one individual in the 1990s), Fakarava (reports from fishermen in the 1980s), Tahanea (12-15 birds in 1989), Raevski Group (Hiti, Tuanake, perhaps Tepoto: reports from fishermen in 1984 but none seen in 1999 and probably extinct), Anuanuraro (30-40 in 1990), Nukutavake (1981), Tenararo (177 encounters in 1999 suggesting a minimum of 500 birds on the island), Vahanga, Tenarunga (two birds and one bird respectively in 1999), Matureivavao (very common in 1966, records also in 1970 and 1982), Marutea Sud (moderately abundant in 1965) and Morane (150-200 in 1990)1,2,3,4,5,7,8,10. Records of one or two birds may refer to visiting (rather than established) birds and thus these islands may no longer be significant sites2. Surveys in 2003 found several hundred birds at previously known localities, and a new population of 50 birds was found11. The total population is estimated to be 250-999 individuals. (IUCN Red List).


The Tuamotu Sandpiper is threatened by introduced rats and habitat destruction caused by the spreading cultivation of coconuts, and is listed as endangered. Although it had a much wider range historically had a wider range (see also below), it now survives on a small number of rat-free islands, namely Anuanuraro, Tenararo, Morane and one other atoll (BirdLife International, 2006). Birds will occur as non-breeding visitors on other islands nearby, particularly in the Acteon group (Blanvillain et al., 2002).

Its IUCN Red List status of Endangered B1a+b(ii, iii, iv, v); Vulnerable C2a(i), D1 means that estimates indicate between 250 and 1000 mature birds occurring in less than 6 locations, with a declining trend[1]. There are no conservation measures in place, although proposals are being suggested to protect the species. These include granting full protection to the remaining atolls where it breeds and preventing the further spread of rats.



Red List Category & Criteria: Prosobonia cancellata is listed as EN B1ab(ii,iii,iv,v)    ver 3.1 (2001) (IUCN Red List).

Year Assessed: Prosobonia cancellata's status was assessed in 2006 (IUCN Red List).

Assessor: Prosobonia cancellata's Red List status was evaluated by BirdLife International (IUCN Red List).

Red List Evaluator: The Red List Evaluator for Prosobonia cancellata is listed by IUCN as Butchart, S. & Pilgrim, J. (BirdLife International Red List Authority) (IUCN Red List).

Red List Rational / Justification : Prosobonia cancellata is listed by IUCN for the following: This species was formerly widespread, but is now restricted to predator-free, usually uninhabited islands. It is listed as Endangered because it has a very small range overall, is currently known only from a few locations, and is likely to be undergoing a continuing decline due to loss and disturbance of habitat, and the effects of introduced species. (IUCN Red List).

Red List History: Prosobonia cancellata was listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 1988 (IUCN Red List).


This bird lives on undisturbed atolls where it feeds in open areas, including the shores and beaches, and scrubland; it is more rarely found in Pandanus thickets. It takes insects such as ants, leafhoppers and wasps in the coral rubble and leaf litter, also taking some vegetation.

The call is a soft, high whistle or piping, transcribed as meh by the Whitney South Seas Expedition.

It breeds at different times on different islands, generally between April and June. Nests are placed on the lagoon shore and consist of nothing more than a slight hollow in the shoreline coral and shell debris which is lined with grass stems or similar vegetable matter. The clutch is believed to be two eggs, which are white with purple and violet blotches, similar to a smaller version of the Upland Sandpiper's eggs. One two-egg clutch is in the American Museum of Natural History collection (specimen AMNH 5299).


Data Sources for IUCN data: The following is a list of citations from the IUCN web site for Prosobonia cancellata:

Citations listed by IUCN

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (compilers and editors) 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Bird Reference Citations. The numbers inserted in the text accounts above (usually in bold) refer to references. For further details on these references, click on the BirdLife International link above to go to the specific species account on the BirdLife web site. In some cases, particularly in the taxonomic notes, the references are cited using the author names. Details for these can be found on the BirdLife International web site at the following two places:
For References from A–L.
For References from M–Z.

BirdLife International 2006. Threatened Birds of the World 2006. Downloaded from on 04/05/2006.

BirdLife International. 2000. Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, U.K.

BirdLife International. 2004 Threatened Birds of the World 2004. CD-ROM. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Collar, N.J. and Andrew, P. 1988. Birds to Watch. The ICBP World Checklist of Threatened Birds. ICBP Technical Publication No. 8. Page Bros. (Norwich) Ltd, Norfolk, England.

Collar, N.J., Crosby, M.J. and Stattersfield, A.J. 1994. Birds to Watch 2. The World List of Threatened Birds BirdLife International. Page Bros (Norwich) Ltd, U.K.

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1986. 1986 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN. 1990. 1990 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

(IUCN Red List).

References: Wikipedia lists the following as references for Prosobonia cancellata:
BirdLife International (2006). Prosobonia cancellata. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is endangered. Blanvillain, Caroline; Florent, Chevallier & Thenot, Vincent (2002): Land birds of Tuamotu Archipelago, Polynesia: relative abundance and changes during the 20th century with particular reference to the critically endangered Polynesian ground-dove (Gallicolumba erythroptera). Biological Conservation 103(2): 139149. DOI:10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00112-4 (HTML abstract) Cook, James (1784): [Birds of Kiritimati]. In: A voyage to the Pacific Ocean, ... performed under the direction of Captains Cook, Clerke, and Gore, in His Majesty's Ships the Resolution and the Discovery, etc. 2: 188-189. London. Fulltext of 2nd (1785) edition del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (editors) (1996): 57. Tuamotu Sandpiper. In: Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks:515, plate 43. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-20-2 Gmelin, Johann Friedrich (1789): [Description of Prosobonia cancellata]. In: Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (13th ed.) 1, part II: 675. Georg Emanuel Beer, Lipsiae [Leipzig]. Greenway, James C. (1967): Sandpipers of the Tuamotu Archipelago. In: Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World (2nd ed.): 260-263. Dover Publications, New York. Hayman, Peter; Marchant, John & Prater, Tony (1986): Shorebirds: an identification guide to the waders of the world. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. ISBN 0-395-60237-8 Latham, John (1785): ["Barred Phalarope"]: In: A general synopsis of birds 3. London. Lowe, Percy Roycroft (1927): Some further notes on Aechmorhynchus cancellatus. Ibis 12(3): 114-132.[verification needed] Peale, Titian R. (1848): Tringa parvirostris. In: United States exploring expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842 under the command of Charles Wilkes, U.S.N. 8 (Mammalia and Ornithology): 235-236. C. Sherman, Philadelphia. Fulltext at Smithsonian Digital Collection Stresemann, Erwin (1950). Birds collected during Capt. James Cook's last expedition (1776-1780). Auk 67(1): 66-88. PDF fulltext Townsend, C. H. & Wetmore (1919): Reports on the scientific results of the expedition to the tropical Pacific in charge of Alexander Agassiz, on the U.S. Fish Commission steamer "Albatross," from August, 1899, to March, 1900, Commander Jefferson F. Moser, U.S.N., commanding. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 63: 151-225. Zusi Richard L. & Jehl, Robert R. Jr. (1970): The systematic relationships of Aechmorhynchus, Prosobonia and Phegornis (Charadriiformes; Charadrii). Auk 87: 760-780. PDF fulltext (Wikipedia).

Links: IUCN Red List Profile for Prosobonia cancellata (IUCN Red List).

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