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    The conservation and ecology of a newly described Amazon parrot; Amazona lilacina

    Biddle, R (2021) The conservation and ecology of a newly described Amazon parrot; Amazona lilacina. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University in collaboration with The North of England Zoological Society.


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    Parrots are one of the most threatened bird groups worldwide. The Ecuadorian Amazon parrot, Amazona lilacina was described as a full species in 2014 however, details on its ecology and status were missing. This research aimed to gather and collate information using natural and social science methods, to further our knowledge and provide an evidence base to inform conservation action. The five key areas of research were 1) conservation status, 2) species distribution, 3) fine-scale habitat preferences, 4) roosting dynamics, and 5) human interactions with the species. I conducted field surveys throughout coastal Ecuador to gather observations of A. lilacina and to locate communal roosting grounds. I conducted surveys of these roosting grounds and estimate the global population at 741-1,090 birds. Compared to data from 20 years ago, I suggest a population decline of 60%, meaning that A. lilacina fulfils the criteria for Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. I developed community questionnaires to record local peoples’ observations of A. lilacina and used responses from >400 people, combined with my own observations, to model distribution. From this I predict that 17,772 km² of suitable habitat remains. Within this area, I assessed fine-scale forest characteristics over 35,800 m² and identified 36 tree species that A. lilacina uses. I developed a roost survey protocol to assess fluctuation in roost size and composition for one subpopulation. This method is often used to estimate the reproductive output of Amazon parrot populations, however my results from surveys over 36 consecutive months, suggest this is not possible and highlight a change in roosting dynamics since 20 years ago. I developed community interview questions, to understand local peoples’ experiences and attitudes towards parrots, trapping and pet keeping, and results from >100 people suggest that parrot trapping and pet keeping occurs throughout the species’ range. I developed a model to predict 7 the distribution of pet parrots, based on wild parrot abundance and human accessibility, and combined this with interview responses to assess the risk of parrot trapping. This highlighted that parrots in the south of the range are at greater risk, and I provide recommendations for development and continuation of support for conservation efforts with local communities.

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