Bird habitat on the island of Tinian, Mariana Islands, has been substantially altered, and only around 5% of the island has native forest today. The modern bird fauna is likely to be a subset of the original avifauna where only species tolerant to native forest loss and human disturbance have survived. Avian surveys were conducted on the island in 2008 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide current densities and abundances of the remaining species, and assess population trends using data collected from previous surveys. During the three surveys (1982, 1996, and 2008), 18 species were detected, and abundances and trends were assessed for 11 species. Five of the nine native species and one alien bird have increased since 1982. Three native birds—Mariana Fruit-Dove (Ptilinopus roseicapilla), Micronesian Honeyeater (Myzomela rubratra), and Tinian Monarch (Monarcha takatsukasae)—have decreased since 1982. Trends for the remaining two birds (one native and one alien) were considered relatively stable. Only five birds, including the Tinian Monarch, showed significant differences among regions of Tinian by year. Increased development on Tinian may result in increases in habitat clearing and expansion of human-dominated habitats, and declines in some bird populations would likely continue or be exacerbated with these actions. Expanded development activities on Tinian would also mean increased cargo movement between Guam and Tinian, elevating the probability of transporting the Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis) to Tinian, which would lead to precipitous decreases and extinctions.
Additional publication details
Bird populations on the Island of Tinian: persistence despite wholesale loss of native forests