birds of moka, bioko island

Nearly 200 species of birds can be found on Bioko Island, including the rare Bare-headed Rock Fowl (Picathartes oreas). Bioko also has two endemic bird species, the Fernando Po Speirops (Speirops brunneus) and the Fernando Po Batis (Batis poensis), as well as at least 28 endemic subspecies. Other key species are the Mountain Saw-wing (Psalidoprocne fuliginosa) and Ursula’s Sunbird (Cinnyris ursulae).


Although BBPP has not specifically studied birds on Bioko in the past, since October 2011 we have begun a preliminary population monitoring program in the areas around our Moka Wildlife Center. This ongoing project, in addition to filling in a major information gap about the ecology around the MWC, has become one of the keystone projects of the Drexel Study Abroad Field Research in Tropical Ecology course, including students in an active conservation research project.  More recently, this project has been extended to collect information about populations surrounding the newly constructed road to Ureca in association with the BBPP's Road Impact Assessment.




In 2015, construction was completed for the Ureca road on Bioko Island.  This road runs north from the city of Luba down to the most southern village on the island, Ureca.  Previously, this area was pristine and not easily accessible to a majority of the population.  The new unprecedented access to this once secluded habitat may have long term implications for the resident wildlife species.  Road ecology is a growing sub-discipline within the field of conservation ecology.  Roads can negatively impact wildlife populations by creating barriers to animal movement and migration, facilitating noise, dust, chemical and toxin pollution, increasing runoff leading to possible stream degradation, and perhaps most importantly, causing habitat fragmentation (Coffin 2007; Forman 2004).  One particular wildlife taxonomic group which has shown to be adversely affected by the presence of roads is birds.


Studies have shown bird populations being affected up to a 1 km distance from existing roads and infrastructure.  Specifically, the mean species abundance (MSA) of these populations seem to be positively correlated with proximity to infrastructure meaning the number of birds decreases the closer you are to the road (Benítez-Lopéz et al. 2010).  Noise attributed to road traffic has been associated with decreased breeding rates in some bird species (Kaseloo 2005) while other data suggests that predation among bird nests is highest along roadsides opposite of wooded areas (K. Freeman, unpublished data).


The goals of the current road impact study are to determine: 1) the overall effect of the road on bird species abundance and diversity, 2) if the road has created a barrier or edge effect regarding wildlife species, 3) if the road has facilitated disease transmission among wildlife species and 4) if hunting and trapping pressure have increased since the roads completion. Additionally, we will conduct malaria screening to determine overall infection rates of avian malaria among bird species along the road and on Bioko in general.  These results will be correlated with the island’s elevational gradient and other external variables in an attempt to establish significant relationships.  Based on these assessments, we will be able to offer recommendations to the national government regarding future road construction in terms of road location, length and composition.  Additionally, we will begin to survey for other taxa such as small mammals and amphibians to obtain a clearer overall picture regarding the roads ecological impact in this once unspoiled habitat.

Road Impact assessment

Western Mountain Greenbul

(Andropadus tephrolaemus)

Moka Wildlife Center, 2011

Green Twinspot

(Mandingoa nitidula)

Moka Wildlife Center, 2011

Cameroon Blue-Headed Sunbird(Cyanomitra oritis)

Moka Wildlife Center, 2011

Yellow-Whiskered Greenbul

(Andropadus latirostris)

Moka Wildlife Center, 2011

Red-Breasted Paradise Flycatcher

(Terpsiphone rufiventer)

Moka Wildlife Center, 2011

Forest Robin

(Stiphrornis erythrothorax)

Bioko Island, 2008

Northern Double-Collared Sunbird(Cinnyris reichenowi)

Bioko Island, 2008

Yellow-tumped Tinkerbird

(Pogoniulus bilineatus)

Moka Wildlife Center, 2014

All photos seen above are credited to National Geographic Photographers Tim Laman, Ian Nichols, Joel Sartore, and Christian Ziegler as well as numerous members of BBPP (staff, students, and volunteers).