In the past 20 years, this species has gone from being of no conservation concern, to the brink of extinction (1). An expanding human population has undoubtedly had an impact on the species (7), despite its ability to persist in a range of habitats (2). Between 1982 and 2007, the human population on Saipan quadrupled, resulting in development of much more of the island. During this period, of the 11 land bird species found on Saipan, the golden white-eye and two other species decreased in number (7).
The brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis) poses a significant threat to the future of the golden white eye. The predatory brown tree snake was first accidentally introduced to the neighbouring island of Guam shortly after World War II (8), and has since been reported on three of the Mariana Islands, including Saipan (9). The devastating impact this invasive reptile may have on the golden white-eye is illustrated by the loss of 8 of Guam’s 11 bird species since the brown tree snake arrived on the island, including the bridled white-eye (Zosterops conspicillatus) (8). Thankfully, the island of Aguijan is currently free from the brown tree snake and, due to its inaccessibility, will hopefully remain so (2).