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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Buller's shearwaters return to the Poor Knights Islands in mid-September to court females and clean out their burrows before breeding (7). Nesting occurs in large, dense colonies (5), with egg-laying beginning in October (2) (7). The single white egg is incubated by both sexes for about 51 days, and most chicks fledge at around 90 days (5). The following April to late May sees the colonies departing once more for the north Pacific (5) (7). The diet consists of krill, small fish, squid and jellyfish (6), and birds have only recently started to scavenge fishing boat scraps (5).
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Description

Buller's shearwater has been described as flying with a grace and economy like no other, characterised by longer gliding motions and less wing flapping, each bird arcing and tilting seemingly without effort (3) (4). In flight, a dark bar on the pale grey wings and lower back forms an unmistakable and arresting 'M'-shaped pattern from above (3) (4), easily distinguishing this shearwater from any other (2). Upperparts are otherwise brownish-grey, while underparts are white (2). The grey, wedge-shaped tail is broadly tipped in black, the long, slender bill is bluish grey with a darker tip, and the legs and feet are pink (5) (6).
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Distribution

Range Description

Ardenna bulleri breeds only at the Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand. The species is restricted to two main islands, Aorangi and Tawhiti Rahi, and five other islets and stacks (Marchant and Higgins 1990). In the 1980s, one pair was found breeding on the Simmonds Islands, in the far north of New Zealand (Taylor 2000). Between 1938 and 1981, the population on Aorangi increased from c.200 to c.200,000 pairs (Harper 1983, Heather and Robertson 1997). However, surveys in 2011 suggested that there were fewer than 200,000 burrows, and perhaps only c.50,000 (G. Taylor in litt. 2012). In 2011, breeding success on Aorangi Island was noted to be very low, with only 16 chicks found in the 150 burrows sampled (G. Taylor in litt. 2012). The total population has been estimated at 2.5 million birds (Marchant and Higgins 1990), although this now regarded as too high (G. Taylor in litt. 2012). It migrates to the northern Pacific Ocean, from Japan to North America and east to California, and is occasionally found off South America (Heather and Robertson 1997, Taylor 2000).

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Occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations, but breeds in a single state or province

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Transient

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Transient

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Global Range: (<100 square km (less than about 40 square miles)) Breeding occurs on the Poor Knights Islands near North Island, New Zealand. One pair was found breeding on the Simmonds Islands (north of New Zealand) in the 1980s. In the nonbreeding season, this species occurs on the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of North America from the Gulf of Alaska to Baja California; near the Hawaiian Islands and Galapagos Islands; off the Kuriles; and off the western coast of South America from Ecuador to Chile (AOU 1998); and to southward to Australian waters (Sibley and Monroe 1990). In North America, it most common from Washington to central California; rarer north and south along the west coast (National Geographic Society 1983).

Coded range extent refers to the terrestrial nesting range. The total area of the Poor Knights Islands is around 24 square kilometers.

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Range

Breeds islands off New Zealand; wide transpacific dispersal.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Range

Amazingly, the estimated population of some 2,500,000 birds breeds on just one small island group (Poor Knights Islands) off New Zealand, where it is restricted to two main islands, Aorangi and Tawhiti Rahi, and five other islets and stacks. In the non-breeding season, these masses migrate to the north Pacific Ocean, from Japan to North America, and are occasionally found off South America (6).
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Physical Description

Size

Length: 41 cm

Weight: 380 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It nests in burrows or on rock-crevices and ledges, often under dense vegetation. It feeds on krill, small fish, salps and jellyfish (Marchant and Higgins 1990, Heather and Robertson 1997).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
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Comments: Nests are in burrows or rock crevices or under tree roots, on densely forested slopes, as on the larger of the Poor Knights Islands; or in crevices among rocks on treeless stacks or cliffs, such as on the smaller of the Poor Knights Islands. Otherwise the species is pelagic.

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breeding near New Zealand
  • UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
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Depth range based on 568 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 370 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 0
  Temperature range (°C): 11.144 - 17.806
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.071 - 4.675
  Salinity (PPS): 30.381 - 34.648
  Oxygen (ml/l): 5.473 - 6.583
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.330 - 0.800
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.436 - 16.169

Graphical representation

Temperature range (°C): 11.144 - 17.806

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.071 - 4.675

Salinity (PPS): 30.381 - 34.648

Oxygen (ml/l): 5.473 - 6.583

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.330 - 0.800

Silicate (umol/l): 1.436 - 16.169
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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This marine, pelagic bird comes to shore only to breed (2), nesting in burrows, rock-crevices and ledges, often under dense vegetation (6).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

This species usually is seen off the west coast of North America during southward migration. It is a rare passage migrant in the central tropical Pacific, recorded at sea near Hawaii mainly in April and August-November (Pratt et al. 1987). It arrives in New Zealand coastal waters in September and almost all depart by the end of May (Jenkins 1988).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Diet includes fishes (e.g., Pacific saury), squids and crustaceans obtained at or near the surface of the water..

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5

Comments: This species is represented by nesting occurrences on just a few islands, with most on just two islands (Tawhiti Rahi and Aorangi)..

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Global Abundance

>1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is not precisely known but has been estimated at 2,500,000 (Marchant and Higgins 1990).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Egg laying occurs mostly in late November. Clutch size is 1.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Puffinus bulleri

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 7 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CTAATTTTTGGCGCATGAGCCGGTATAGTTGGAACCGCCCTT---AGCCTACTCATTCGTGCAGAACTTGGTCAACCAGGGACACTCCTGGGAGAT---GATCAAATCTACAATGTAATTGTCACCGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTAATGCCCGTCATAATTGGAGGATTCGGAAACTGATTAGTTCCCCTCATA---ATCGGTGCACCCGACATAGCATTCCCACGTATAAATAACATAAGCTTCTGATTACTACCCCCATCCTTCCTCCTCCTACTAGCCTCCTCTACAGTAGAGGCAGGAGCAGGTACAGGGTGAACTGTATATCCCCCCCTAGCTGGCAACCTTGCTCATGCCGGAGCCTCAGTCGATCTA---GCCATCTTCTCCCTCCACCTAGCAGGTGTATCGTCTATCCTAGGGGCAATCAACTTCATTACAACAGCTATCAACATAAAACCCCCAGCTCTATCACAATATCAAACCCCTCTATTCGTATGATCCGTACTCATCACTGCCGTCCTACTCCTACTCTCACTCCCTGTCCTCGCAGCA---GGGATCACTATACTATTGACAGACCGAAACCTAAACACTACATTCTTTGACCCAGCTGGTGGAGGAGACCCAGTCCTATATCAACACCTTTTCTGATTCTTTGGCCACCCAGAAGTCTACATCCTT
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Puffinus bulleri

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
D2

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Szabo, M. & Taylor, G.

Justification
This species qualifies as Vulnerable because the population is restricted to a very small area when breeding, and remains at risk from the accidental introduction of predators and other catastrophes. If it succeeds in expanding its range, it may be downlisted to Near Threatened.

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable

Reasons: Very small bmall breeding range on islands near North Island, New Zealand; large population size; ranges widely at sea in the Pacific Ocean.

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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).
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Population

Population
The total population is estimated at 2.5 million birds (Marchant and Higgins 1990), although this is now likely to be too high (G. Taylor in litt. 2012).


Population Trend
Stable
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to increase of 25%

Comments: Population probably is stable or increasing, but better informatrion is needed.

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Threats

Major Threats
It was previously caught in north Pacific drift-nets (Gould et al. 1998), and is still potentially at risk from set-nets. It may be caught on longlines, in trawling operations and on hand and reel lines, but little documented evidence is available (Taylor 2000). Domestic pigs were previously a threat (removed in 1936), and the species would be at risk of mammalian predators if introduced. The species is potentially threatened by climate change because it has a geographically bounded distribution: it is restricted to an island or islands with a maximum altitude of 218 m (BirdLife International, unpublished data). Poor breeding success recorded on Aorangi Island in 2011 may have been related to a strong La Niña climate pattern in 2010-2011, but data from some birds fitted with geolocators indicated that incubation shifts were around twice the length of those published in the 1980s (G. Taylor in litt. 2012). There has been intensive purse-seine fishing of pelagic fish in the Hauraki Gulf in recent decades, which may have impacted the species through food resource depletion, as it is known to feed in these areas and, perhaps connected to this, populations of Red-billed Gulls Larus scopulinus on the Mokohinau Islands have crashed from c.20,000 birds in the 1960s to fewer than 500 birds in 2011 (G. Taylor in litt. 2011). Further investigation is required.

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Degree of Threat: Low

Comments: Feral pigs decimated the population nesting on Aorangi, but the shearwater population recovered after pigs were eliminated. Accidental introduction of non-native species is an ongoing potential threat on all islands.

Mortality occurs as incidental catch in fisheries, but the impact of this on the shearwater population is unknown.

Formerly this species was harvested by the Maori.

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Buller's shearwater was previously caught in drift-nets in the north Pacific, with an estimated 4,000 birds killed annually, and may still be at risk from set-nets (6) (8). Longline fishing, trawling operations, and hand-and-reel lines may also pose a threat, although little documented evidence of this exists (6) (8). Furthermore, this bird's very limited breeding range renders it extremely vulnerable to the effects of accidentally introduced predators, disease, storms and other catastrophes (6) (8). Indeed, the dense colonies nesting on the Poor Knights Islands were once devastated by introduced pigs. Thankfully, after the eradication of the pigs the shearwaters recovered spectacularly and now have a healthy, growing population, but the potential risk to a bird with such a small breeding range nevertheless remains (4).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
The eradication of pigs from Aorangi in 1936 caused a massive increase in the population, with the recolonisation probably coming from the nearby predator-free island, Tawhiti Rahi (Heather and Robertson 1997). Fishing has been banned at the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve since 1996 and entry onto the island reserve is prohibited (Szabo in litt. 2004). The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) established the world's first mandatory "area to be avoided" (ATBA) for large shipping vessels, including oil tankers, around the islands in 2004 (Szabo in litt. 2004). Breeding islands have permanent poisoned bait stations and each island is checked every year for any evidence that rodents have arrived (G. Taylor in litt. 2012). The species has been the subject of tracking studies utilising geolocators, with further data collection planned for 2013 (G. Taylor in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Complete an accurate population census (including on Aorangi Island, to better assess breeding numbers [G. Taylor in litt. 2012]), assess the current status of breeding on Simmonds Islands and identify any signs of prospecting on other island groups. Establish monitoring plots on Poor Knights to determine the rate and pattern of colony expansion (Taylor 2000). Quantify the impact of bycatch during fishing activities. If judged necessary, work with fisheries to develop bycatch reduction measures.

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Biological Research Needs: Level of incidental take in fisheries needs to be determined.

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Global Protection: Few (1-3) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: The Poor Knights Islands are a marine reserve (fishing not permitted), and entry onto the islands is prohibited without a permit.

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Conservation

There was a massive increase in the population after the eradication of feral pigs from Aorangi in 1936, with recolonising populations probably coming from the nearby predator-free island, Tawhiti Rahi (6). The large population is thought to be continuing to grow on the Poor Knights Islands, a protected, now predator-free nature reserve, and if it succeeds in expanding its range, this species may be downlisted to Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List (6) (7).
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Wikipedia

Buller's shearwater

The Buller's shearwater (Puffinus bulleri) is a Pacific species of seabird in the family Procellariidae; it is also known as the grey-backed shearwater or New Zealand shearwater. A member of the black-billed wedge-tailed Thyellodroma group, among the larger shearwaters of the proposed genus Ardenna, it forms a superspecies with the wedge-tailed shearwater ("P." pacificus).[2]

Description[edit]

Migrating bird in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary offshore California, United States; note upperwing pattern

Adults birds are 46–47 cm in length, with a 97–99 cm wingspan, and have been recorded to weigh 342-425 g. The upperside of Buller's shearwater is bluish grey. A blackish stripe runs from the tertiary remiges to the primary wing coverts. The primary remiges are blackish also; the two black areas do not meet at the hand however; the area between them is a rather light grey, under bright light it may appear almost white. With the bird facing upwards, the pattern gives the impression of a broken black "M", with light grey interspersing areas.[3]

The underside is bright white; on the head the upperside's grey extends town to eye height and the white cheeks may shine up conspicuously, as in the smaller shearwaters of Puffinus sensu stricto. The rectrices are blackish and the tail is wedge-shaped; bill and iris are dark. Fledged juveniles already have the adult's colouration; the nestlings are covered in grey down feathers.[3]

Compared to other shearwaters, the species is unusually easy to identify at sea by its combination of considerable size and the distinctive M-shaped banding pattern on its upperside while flying, uniquely among its genus and more akin to some gadfly petrels (Pterodroma), the prions (Pachyptila) and their relative, the blue petrel (Halobaena caerulea). These are all much smaller birds, perhaps two-thirds in length and wingspan and less than half in bulk of Buller's shearwater.[3]

Range and ecology[edit]

This species is pelagic like the other Ardenna shearwaters; it is a transequatorial migrant ranging across most of the Pacific Ocean outside the breeding season. Though it occurs in the subarctic waters off Kamchatka and the Aleutian Islands, it is not documented in the subantarctic Pacific; this apparent absence might simply be due to the lack of study opportunities in the vast islandless region south of the Polynesian Triangle however. It is fairly common well off the west coast of the United States during late summer and early autumn, and can generally be observed not far from land along the whole temperate and tropical coastlines of the Americas. Its general absence from most of Melanesia and western Micronesia – where human settlement and sea traffic are considerable – is thus probably genuine; only isolated records, such as from the Marianas, Palau and Yap, exist from west and southwest of the Marshall Islands.[4] A vagrant bird was also recorded in the Atlantic once, offshore New Jersey, United States.[3]

Buller's shearwater feeds mainly on fish, squid, and crustaceans such as the krill Nyctiphanes australis. It does occasionally follow ships such as fishing trawlers, and may be part of a mixed-species feeding flock. Food is caught mainly at a head's length below the surface at most, the bird either picking it up with the bill only, often out of flight, or briefly inserting the entire head, usually while swimming. It neither dives out of flight very often, nor in a plunge off the water's surface.[3]

It is a colonial nester, breeding predominantly on Tawhiti Rahi and Aorangi, the main islands of the Poor Knights group offshore northern New Zealand.[5] This bird nests in burrows, rock crevices or under tree roots, preferring densely forested slopes.[6] Buller's shearwater can also be found to breed in cracked-up rock on treeless stacks or cliffs however, and most of the other colonies – on the smaller Poor Knights islands between the main islands and off the southeast of Aorangi[verification needed] – are of such a nature. A pair was observed to breed on the Simmonds Islands in 1980,[7] but this seems to have been an isolated incident.[3]

The breeding season starts in October and lasts for almost half a year. A single egg is incubated for about 51 days, with the parents changing between incubation and feeding every four days or so. Time to fledging is not well known, but by analogy with Buller's shearwater's relatives assumed to be around 100 days.[3]

In the past, it was heavily used as a food source by the Māori, and on Aorangi it suffered massive predation by feral pigs. Its population had crashed to a low of just 100-200 pairs on Aorangi in the late 1930s. The pigs were removed from the island in 1936, and the shearwater population recovered, numbering 200,000 pairs again in the early 1980s to approach carrying capacity on the island at the end of the 20th century. At all times however, the colonies at Tawhiti Rahi and on the smaller islets could supply birds for the resettlement of Aorangi, and Buller's shearwater was never considered threatened with extinction in the foreseeable future. Indeed, it is a very abundant bird, with an estimated world population of 2.5 million birds. But as it is not known to occur on any larger island in the region outside the Poor Knights Islands, it is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN: a single localized catastrophe could wipe the species out.[8]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Puffinus bulleri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Carboneras (1992), Austin (1996), Austin et al. (2004), Penhallurick & Wink (2004)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Carboneras (1992)
  4. ^ Wiles et al. (2004)
  5. ^ Falla, R.A. (1924). "Discovery of a Breeding Place of Buller's Shearwater, Poor Knights Island, N.Z". Emu 24: 37– 43. doi:10.1071/MU924037. 
  6. ^ Marchant, S; Higgins, P. J. (1990). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds. Oxford University Press (Melbourne and New York). ISBN 0195530683. 
  7. ^ IUCN (2008)
  8. ^ Carboneras (1992), IUCN (2008)

References[edit]

  • Austin, Jeremy J. (1996): Molecular Phylogenetics of Puffinus Shearwaters: Preliminary Evidence from Mitochondrial Cytochrome b Gene Sequences. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 6(1): 77–88. doi:10.1006/mpev.1996.0060 (HTML abstract)
  • Austin, Jeremy J.; Bretagnolle, Vincent & Pasquet, Eric (2004): A global molecular phylogeny of the small Puffinus shearwaters and implications for systematics of the Little-Audubon's Shearwater complex. Auk 121(3): 847–864. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2004)121[0847:AGMPOT]2.0.CO;2 HTML abstract HTML fulltext without images
  • Carboneras, Carles (1992): 58. Buller's Shearwater. In: del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew & Sargatal, Jordi (eds.): Handbook of Birds of the World (Vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks): 254, plate 16. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-10-5
  • Penhallurick, John & Wink, Michael (2004): Analysis of the taxonomy and nomenclature of the Procellariiformes based on complete nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Emu 104(2): 125-147. doi:10.1071/MU01060 (HTML abstract)
  • Wiles, Gary J.; Johnson, Nathan C.; de Cruz, Justine B.; Dutson, Guy; Camacho, Vicente A.; Kepler, Angela Kay; Vice, Daniel S.; Garrett, Kimball L.; Kessler, Curt C. & Pratt, H. Douglas (2004): New and Noteworthy Bird Records for Micronesia, 1986–2003. Micronesica 37(1): 69-96. HTML abstract

Further reading[edit]

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