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San Clemente sage sparrow

The San Clemente sage sparrow (Amphispiza belli clementeae) is endemic to San Clemente Island off the coast of southern California. It occurs in three discontinuous patches of maritime sage scrub dominated by boxthorn (Lycium californicum): a narrow coastal belt on the western shore extending north from Seal Cove, a smaller area four kilometers to the south, and a degraded site just north of the runway on the north end of the island [4]. Its habitat has been degraded by sheep, pigs, mule deer and goats since the late 1880s [1]. The U.S. Navy took control of the island in 1934, began removing feral ungulates in 1973, and completed the task in 1993 [2].

The sage sparrow was common in the early 1900s [5], but declined to 112 birds in 1976 [7]. It was listed as an endangered species in 1977, increased to 360 in 1981 [6], then declined to 38 in 1984 [6], before increasing to 195-280 in 1986 [7]. Larger populations were documented in the 1990s and 2000s [3].

[1] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1984. Recovery Plan for the Endangered and Threatened Species of the California Channel Islands. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, OR. 165 pp.
[2] U.S. Navy, Southwest Division. 2002. San Clemente Island Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan Final, May 2002. San Diego, CA. Prepared by Tierra Data Systems, Escondido, CA.
[3] Institute for Widlife Studies. 2005. San Clemente sage sparrow. Website (www.iws.org/san_clemente_sage_sparrow.htm) visited October 1, 2005.
[4] SERG. 2003. TAR 4 Habitat Monitoring and Restoration Plan. Soil Ecology and Research Group, San Diego State University (www.serg.sdsu.edu/SERG/restorationproj/channel_islands/TAR4/TAR4.htm)
[5] Martin, J. W., and B. A. Carlson. 1998. Sage Sparrow (Amphispiza belli). In The Birds of North America, No. 326 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
[6] Hyde, K.M. 1985. The status of the San Clemente sage sparrow. Unpublished report on file at: the Natural Resources Office, North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego, CA. 55 pp.
[7] NatureServe. 2005.

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