VU
Nicobar Scrubfowl Megapodius nicobariensis



Taxonomy

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- A1bc A1bc; D1

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2021 Vulnerable A1bc; D1
2016 Vulnerable C2a(i);D1
2012 Vulnerable C2a(i);D1
2009 Vulnerable C2a(i)
2008 Vulnerable
2004 Vulnerable
2000 Vulnerable
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Vulnerable
1988 Threatened
Species attributes

Migratory status not a migrant Forest dependency High
Land mass type Average mass -
Distribution

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 8,700 medium
Number of locations 11-100 -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 750-1500 medium estimated 2011
Population trend Stable medium suspected -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations 2-6 - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation 1-89 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 6.8 - - -

Population justification: Prior to the 2003 tsunami, a survey in 1994 estimated that the population totalled 2,322–4,065 pairs, rounded to 4,500-8,000 mature individuals (Sankaran 1995). This was based on an average of 2.0-3.5 pairs per mound using an estimated total of 1,161 active mounds extrapolated from transects placed in coastal areas. Mounds further than 100 m from the shore were excluded, and no inland areas were surveyed. The species does however create mounds in inland areas, and there may be a significant number of additional breeding pairs especially on Great Nicobar Island.

The 2004 tsunami dramatically reduced the population. Sivakumar (2010) estimated 394 active mounds in 2006 based on the same methodology as Sankaran (1995). Using the mean minimum of 2 pairs using a mound, 788 breeding pairs, the population had been reduced by 66%. But post-tsunami the mounds themselves were smaller, suggesting that the overall reduction may have been even greater, up to 81% if comparing 3.5 pairs per mound before the tsumani and 2 pairs per mound afterwards. Sivakumar estimated that the bounds of the population should be set by using just one pair per mound as the minimum and two as the maximum, giving an estimate of 788-1,566 mature individuals. A follow-up between 2009-2011 (A. P. Zaibin in litt. 2012) estimated a similar number, 376-788 pairs, again suggesting a population that can be rounded to 750-1,500 mature individuals. This suggests that the population was likely stable for the few years after the tsunami, and while it is suspected that the habitat will return to a more favourable state and allow recovery over time an updated estimate is now needed.

The impact of the tsunami was similar across both subspecies, with an estimated reduction in the number of active mounds of 69% for M. n. nicobariensis and 65% for M. n. abbotti. subspecies, with the nominate (north of the Sombrero channel) estimated to number 97–194 breeding pairs (194-388 mature individuals) and M. n. abbotti 297–594 breeding pairs (594-1088 mature individuals) (Sivakumar 2010).

An important caveat is that none of the surveys have accounted for the proportion breeding in inland areas. While these may be at much lower density, they are also unlikely to have been impacted as severely by the tsunami and may be expected to mildly buffer the severity of the population reduction. Overall, the 2003 tsunami is inferred to have caused a population reduction of between 66% and 75%, with the best value considered 66%. While it is not an event that is expected to recur, and the reduction can be viewed as reversible, this single incident increased the species risk of extinction through a significant one-off population reduction from which the species requires secure habitat and a time to recover.

Trend justification: Although survey results from 2006, following the 2004 tsunami, suggest that its numbers had declined by 66-75% on the 1994 population estimate (Sivakumar 2007, 2010), preliminary reports suggested that a natural recovery was underway (R. Sankaran in litt. 2008), despite the worsening of some threats (Sivakumar 2010), and surveys carried out in 2009-2011 suggest that the population has remained stable (A. P. Zaibin in litt. 2012).


Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
India N Extant Yes
Myanmar U Presence Uncertain

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
India Great Nicobar, Little Nicobar
India Tillangchong, Camorta, Katchal, Nancowry and Trinkat

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Forest Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland major resident
Altitude 0 - 600 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Agro-industry farming Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Stresses
Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Majority (50-90%) Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Species disturbance, Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion, Reduced reproductive success
Climate change & severe weather Storms & flooding Timing Scope Severity Impact
Past, Likely to Return Majority (50-90%) Very Rapid Declines Past Impact
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Canis familiaris Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Felis catus Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Species mortality
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Named species Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Unknown Unknown
Stresses
Competition
Residential & commercial development Housing & urban areas Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Transportation & service corridors Roads & railroads Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Stresses
Ecosystem conversion

Utilisation
Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Megapodius nicobariensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/07/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/07/2022.