Species

BackBrachmia infuscatella Rebel, 1940

Brachmia infuscatella Rebel, 1940

Moth (English); Traça (Portuguese)

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Gelechiidae
EN Endangered
IUCN Red List Status:

Countries of Occurrence:
Portugal - Azores

Archipelago(s):
Azores

Reviewer/s:
Danielczak, A.

Contributor/s:
Nunes, R. & Lamelas-Lopez, L.

Facilitators / Compilers/s:


Assessment Rationale:

Brachmia infuscatella is an endemic species present in Faial, Pico, S. Jorge, Terceira and Santa Maria islands (Azores, Portugal) (Borges et al. 2010). It has a large extent of occurrence (EOO = ca 13,000 km²) and a small area of occupancy (AOO = 68 km²). In the past, the species has probably strongly declined due to changes in habitat size and quality. The species is currently rare (low number of specimens known). A decline in the number of individuals is probably due to the degradation of habitat caused by human activities and invasions of alien plants. Based on Ferreira et al. (2016) the habitat will further decline as a consequence of climate change. Based upon the small area of occupancy and decrease of habitat quality it is assessed as Endangered.

Geographic Range:

Brachmia infuscatella is an endemic species present in Faial, Pico, S. Jorge, Terceira and Santa Maria islands (Azores, Portugal) (Borges et al. 2010), known from native habitats (see Rebel 1940). It is known from the Natural Forest Reserve of Pico Alto (Sta. Maria). The extent of occurrence (EOO) is ca 13,000 km² and the maximum estimated area of occupancy (AOO) is 68 km².

Regions:
Portugal - Azores
Extent of Occurrence (EOO):
13000 (km2)
Area of Occupancy (AOO):
68 (km2)
Elevation Lower Limit:
10 (m)
Elevation Upper Limit:
800 (m)
Biogeographic Realms:
Palearctic
Presence:
Extant
Origin:
Endemic Azores
Seasonality:
Resident

Population:

The species is rare (low number of specimens known) and is known from populations in several elevation areas of the Faial, Pico, S. Jorge, Terceira and Santa Maria islands. A decline in the number of individuals is probably due to the degradation of habitat caused by human activities and invasions of alien plants. This species has been assessed here as severely fragmented as at least 50% of its population can be found in subpopulations/in habitat patches that are 1) smaller than would be required to support a viable population, and 2) separated from other habitat patches by a large distance. In fact, the species occurs in  natural forest fragments that are isolated in a sea of pastures and Cryptomeria japonicaplantations. Most of the locations will be under severe threat in the next 10 years due to the aggressive spread of the invasive plants Hedychium gardnerianum and Pittosporum undulatum.

Habitat and Ecology

Brachmia infuscatella occurs in several habitats and in several islands of the Azorean arquipelago (Faial, Pico, S. Jorge, Terceira and Santa Maria). We assume that the larvae are specialist feeding on plant material, and this moth flies in June and July (see data in Rebel 1940; O. Karsholt unpubl.), with probably one or two generations per year.), with probably one or two generations per year. Altitudinal range: 10-800 m.

Major Threat(s):

In the past, the species has probably strongly declined due to changes in habitat size and quality, mostly the creation of pastures (Triantis et al. 2010). Currently invasive plants (Pittosporum undulatum and Hedychium gardnerianum) are changing some of the areas and decreasing the quality of the habitat. These changes are decreasing the relative cover of endemic plants and changing the soil cover (decreasing the cover of bryophytes and ferns). Based on Ferreira et al. (2016) the habitat will further decline as a consequence of climate change (increasing number of droughts and  habitat shifting & alteration).

Conservation Actions

The species is not protected by regional law. Its habitat is in regionally protected areas (Natural Parks of Pico and Santa Maria). Further research is needed to monitor the species and conservation measures to control the invasive Hedychium gardnerianum and Pittosporum undulatum should be implemented to improve habitat quality for this species. Degraded habitats should be restored and a strategy needs to be developed to address the future threat by climate change. It is necessary a monitoring plan for the invertebrate community in the habitat in order to contribute to the conservation of this species. A habitat management plan is needed and anticipated to be developed during the coming years. Monitoring every ten years using the BALA protocol will inform about habitat quality (see e.g. Gaspar et al. 2010).