Acoustical identification of Didunculus strigirostris, critically endangered Tooth-billed Pigeon of Samoa

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The Tooth-billed Pigeon (Didunculus strigirostris) was classified as critically endangered in 2014. A Manumea Recovery Plan 2006–2016 was implemented by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Samoa (MNRE in Recovery plan for the Manumea or Tooth-billed Pigeon Didunculus strigirostris, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Government of Samoa, Apia, 2006) but the main objectives of the plan could not be achieved because of the difficulty of discriminating between the coo calls of Didunculus strigirostris and those of the Pacific Imperial Pigeon (Ducula pacifia). The study provides key information for field work and training of a national team for monitoring Didunculus populations. The spectrographical and statistical analysis of coo calls of these two species shows significant differences in frequency traits. Calls of Didunculus are slightly higher than those of Ducula. The differences, however, are small and detectable only under optimal conditions. The coo calls show overlap in both pitch and length, so identification by call only in the field is not often possible; laboratory analysis of recordings is usually necessary.


Akustische Identifikation von Didunculus strigirostris, der vom Aussterben bedrohten Zahntaube Samoas

Die Zahntaube West-Samoas (Didunculus strigirostris) wird seit 2014 als vom Aussterben bedroht eingestuft. Obwohl vom Umweltministerium West-Samoas 2006–2016 ein Arterhaltungskonzept verfolgt wurde, konnte man dessen wesentlichen Ziele bisher nicht erreichen, da es nur zu vereinzelten Zufallsbeobachtungen von Zahntauben gekommen ist, und die geplanten Untersuchungen nicht durchgeführt werden konnten. Das entscheidende Hindernis ist bisher die akustische Identifikation der Art, um sie in ihrem Lebensraum aufzufinden, da die Standortrufe der Zahntaube im Feld denen der häufigen Pazifik-Fruchttaube Ducula pacifica täuschend ähnlich sind. Letztere wird stark bejagt, so dass es immer wieder zu Fehlabschüssen der akut bedrohten Zahntaube kommt. Das Ziel der Studie ist somit die vergleichende Untersuchung der Standortrufe beider Arten mit dem Ziel, Schlüsselmerkmale zur akustischen Identifikation der Zahntaube im Feld zu finden, um so den Schutz und das Monitoring der Art zu ermöglichen. Dabei greifen wir zurück auf unsere früheren Aufnahmen sowohl von optisch eindeutig identifizierten Individuen der Zahntaube sowie auf Käfigaufnahmen dieser Art im Vergleich mit aktuellen Aufnahmen der Pazifik-Fruchttaube. Die Standortrufe beider Arten unterscheiden sich in Frequenzmerkmalen, die Rufe von Didunculus strigirostris liegen in der maximalen Tonhöhe etwas höher als die von Ducula pacifica. Die Unterschiede werden in dieser Arbeit dargestellt, sie sind jedoch im Feld nur unter optimalen Bedingungen für das menschliche Ohr wahrnehmbar. In den übrigen untersuchten Parametern überschneiden sich die Werte für beide Arten, so dass für eine sichere Bestimmung eine Kontrolle von Audiodokumenten durch sonagraphische Analyse empfehlenswert ist.

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Availability of data and materials

Tables S1 and S2 can be found in Supplementary Material files 1 and 2. The datasets analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request and at


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We thank Peter Herkenrath and an anonymous reviewer for helping to improve the English language of the manuscript, Fränzi Korner-Nievergelt for help with statistical analysis and her constructive ideas and an anonymous reviewer for his comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sabine Baumann.

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Baumann, S., Beichle, U. Acoustical identification of Didunculus strigirostris, critically endangered Tooth-billed Pigeon of Samoa. J Ornithol (2020).

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  • Acoustical identification Didunculus strigirostris
  • Tooth-billed Pigeon
  • Critically endangered Samoan endemic
  • Ducula pacifica
  • Wild pigeon hunting
  • Manumea