Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Nene have the longest nesting season of any wild goose species; eggs are laid in the winter months from August to April, although most eggs are laid during November-January (2). Females lay eggs in hollows in the ground amongst vegetation; these nests are often found in a 'kipuka' (an island of vegetation surrounded by barren lava) (8). Hens incubate their clutch (usually three eggs) for 30 days (9). Goslings remain flightless for three months, making them particularly vulnerable to predation (4). Adults feed on grasses and fruits of native and introduced plants and give similar calls to Canada geese (4). Unlike other geese, nene do not require open water although they will swim if there is water near to their nest (8).
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Description

The nene, or Hawaiian goose, was adopted as the official bird of Hawaii in 1957 (4). It is similar in appearance to the Canada goose although only the face, crown and back of the neck are black whereas the front of the neck is a golden-buff colour and the cheeks are tinged with ochre (5). Nene also have striking black diagonal furrows running the length of their neck and these contrast with the lighter-coloured plumage (2). Both sexes have identical plumage and, unusually amongst geese, the feet are only partially webbed (4) (6). Another unusual feature of the nene is the relatively long legs, which enable it to run and climb over very rugged terrain (such as lava fields) and to walk without the typical waddle of other geese (2).
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Distribution

Global Range: (<100-250 square km (less than about 40-100 square miles)) Fossil records suggest that this species originally occurred on all the main islands. Historically, this species occurred on the Big Island (Hawaii) from sea level to 2,400 meters in elevation. It probably also occurred on Maui in the subalpine zone. Currently, the species ranges from just above sea level to approximately 2,700 meters on the islands of Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii. Highest densities on the Big Island occur on the upper slopes of Hualalai, in upper Kau, and in the saddle area between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Highest densities on Maui occur in Haleakala National Park (Scott et al. 1986, Hawaii Audubon Society 1993).

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endemic to a single state or province

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Range Description

Branta sandvicensis is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands (U.S.A.). Fossil analysis suggests that it once occurred throughout the main islands (Olson and James 1991). However, along with other species, it declined due to habitat loss and alteration, and predation by humans and introduced predators (Olson and James 1991, A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007). The species is now the focus of conservation efforts. Between 1960 and 2006, over 2,400 captive-bred individuals have been released on Big Island, Moloka'i, Maui and Kaua'i (A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007). During the drought years of 1976-1983, the majority of released birds (c.1,200) perished (Black et al. 1997). Of 63 birds released between 2000-2001 and 2005-2006, 55 (87%) survived their first year (A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007). On Big Island, the population has been partly dependent on continued releases, although large numbers are no longer needed to maintain a stable population (C. Terry in litt. 1999, A. Marshall in litt. 2012). This is the most genetically diverse population (F. Woog in litt. 2006). The population on Maui is considered to be more or less stable (A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007). On Kaua'i, numbers had increased to c.1,400-1,600 by 2011. There is now a large population at Kaua'i Lagoons adjacent to the airport, and the state plans to move around 400 from there to sites on Maui, Big Island and Moloka'i. In 2011, the population was estimated at around 2,500 birds state-wide (A. Marshall in litt. 2012).

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Historic Range:
U.S.A. (HI)

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Range

Upland lava flows of Hawaii; introduced to Maui.

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Range

Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands, today the nene is most commonly found in and around Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii Island and in Haleakala National Park on Maui. A large and growing population also occurs in lowland grass pastures on the island of Kauai (4), and nene have recently been reintroduced to the island of Molokai (7).
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Geographic Range

The Hawaiian Goose, or nene, is endemic to the Hawaiian Islands.

Biogeographic Regions: pacific ocean (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Adult nenes are either sepia or dark brown, with no difference in plumage between males and females. The face and crown are black, while the cheeks are cream-colored and the neck is buff with black streaks. The body is brown to grey, the wings are brown to gray, with white tips and the bottom side of the tail is black. The eyes, beak, and feet are black as well. Nenes have longer legs and less toe webbing than other geese, adaptations which aid walking on lava flows.

Range mass: 1.8 to 2.3 kg.

Range length: 53 to 66 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Size

Length: 64 cm

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Diagnostic Description

Lacks the broad white chin strap of the Canada goose.

Differs from other true geese by having longer legs, more erect posture, and reduced webbing between its toes (Banko et al. 1999).

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Type Information

Type for Nesochen sandvicensis
Catalog Number: USNM A15644
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: unknown; Adult
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): Collector Unknown
Locality: Mountains of Hawaii, Hawaii County, Hawaii Island, Main Hawaiian Islands, North Pacific Ocean
  • Type: Peale. 1848. U.S. Exploring Expedition. 8 (mamm. and orn.): 249, pl. lxix.
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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Mainly on sparsely vegetated lava flows (regarded as marginal habitat). Formerly occupied lowland habitats now destroyed or inhabited by predators. Does not require open water. During nonbreeding season feeds in pastures dominated by introduced grasses. Nests on lava often in site well concealed by vegetation; also nests in vegetation near edges of kipukas. Commonly returns to same area to nest in successive years.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
In 1949, the remaining populations on Big Island inhabited rocky, sparsely vegetated, high volcanic slopes. Following habitat loss and alteration for agriculture (Olson and James 1991), the optimal habitat is now apparently grassland, where there is an abundance of high protein food, adjacent to natural scrubland nesting areas (Black et al. 1994, Black 1995, Black et al. 1997). Breeding success and productivity are currently low except on Kaua'i. In recent studies, less than 10% of all breeding-age females successfully bred (Banko et al. 1997, F. Woog in litt. 2006), although this may not be the case on Kaua'i (A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Nene are adaptable and opportunistic in terms of habitat use; found historically on rocky, sparsely vegetated, high volcanic slopes but primarily nesting in lowland habitats (2). Preferred habitat today is pastureland adjacent to natural shrubland (5), although efforts are being made in the national parks to restore native plants species and communities that may have been important to nene before habitats were disturbed by introduced ungulates and other threats (7).
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Nenes inhabit a variety of habitats, including grasslands, scrub forests, and sparsely vegetated volcanic slopes.

Range elevation: 0 to 2400 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; scrub forest ; mountains

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

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: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Eats greens, fruits, seeds. Green vegetation and berries of native plants, such as VACCINIUM spp., COPROSMA ERNODEODES, STYPHELIA TAMEIAMEIAE, and OSTEOMELES ANTHYLLIDIFOLIA (Matthews and Moseley 1990).

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Food Habits

Nenes are herbivores and forage solely on land. They eat leaves, grasses, flowers, berries, flowers, and seeds. Nenes usually eat the more nutrient rich bottom part of grasses, and grab and pull food with their beaks. Several important grasses on the Hawaiian islands that are eaten by nenes include Digitaria violascens, Andropogon virginicus, Sporobolus africanus, Carex wahuensis and some others.

Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit; flowers

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Nenes are important at spreading seeds for many of the plants on which they feed. They are also important food sources for many of the predators mentioned in the previous predation section.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Predation

Males defend their brood and nest most often, while females also engage in defense sometimes. Threat displays such as the bent neck and forward threat are used to scare off predators. When defending themselves from aerial attack, nenes produce alarm calls, huddle in groups and spread wings, or they simply fly away. Chicks usually hide behind parents, leaving defense to them.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: aposematic

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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: 6 - 80

Comments: About 25 separate sites (from map in Banko et al. 1999). Many of these, however, are not self-sustaining.

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Global Abundance

250 - 1000 individuals

Comments: Banko et al. (1999) estimated about 885 wild or free-ranging Nene: Hawai'i, 393; Maui, 236; Kaua'i, 256.

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General Ecology

Nonbreeders form loose flocks during breeding season. Detailed information on home range lacking, but generally range within 200 square kilometers (Banko et al. 1999).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Other than threat and mating displays and sounds described previously, vocalizations are used to communicate with family members, solidify territory, send alarm calls, and threaten predators. Nenes also murmur when foraging as a way of maintaining foraging distance between family members. Chicks can send pleasure calls, distress calls, sleepy calls and greeting calls. Calls are louder during and close to breeding season.

In addition to auditory cues, vision is key in foraging and recognizing family members, predators, and opponents.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic

Other Communication Modes: duets

Perception Channels: ultraviolet

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 42 years (wild)
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Lifespan/Longevity

Annual mortality varies greatly from study to study, depending on whether the animal is wild or in captivity, locality, elevation, etc. The range is from 0 to 87% annual mortality, with slightly lower mortality rates for males than females. In the wild the main causes of mortality include exposure (from low temperatures in high nesting locations), predation (from several indigenous and introduced raptor species, as well as rats, pigs, dogs and mongoose), competition with other species (due to an overlap in diet with game birds and grazing mammals), and starvation or dehydration due to drought. In captivity, 84% of deaths resulted from parasites and diseases while the remaining 16% resulted from trauma. Males die evenly throughout the year. Female mortality occurs mainly in the breeding season when they are most vulnerable to exposure, trauma, and stress from egg laying and predation.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
28 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
42 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
213 months.

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Reproduction

Nesting season is about October-March in native habitat. Clutch size usually is 3-5. Incubation lasts 29-31 days. Young able to run as soon as dry, first fly at 10-12 weeks; vulnerable to predators before flight attained. Sexually mature typically in 2 years. Usually does not renest in same season if first attempt fails.

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Nenes form life-long pair bonds. The male attempts to court the female by stiffly walking in front of her and showing her the white area under his tail. After the female has accepted the male, the two engage in a triumph ceremony in which the male aggressively pushes away rivals and then calls loudly. This is followed by calling into each other's ears. The display before copulation is comparable to other geese, except done on land instead of water. The head and neck are mutually dipped onto the ground, more and more synchronously. Finally the female becomes ready and the male mounts the female. Afterwards, the male raises his wings, pulls his mate's head back and touches her nape with his beak. This is followed by simultaneous calling by both birds, followed by the female flapping its wings and the male strutting.

Mating System: monogamous

Nenes have an extended breeding season ranging from August through April. However, the majority of nesting occurs between the months of October and March, and eggs are usually laid during the winter months between October and January. Nesting occurs on the ground in areas of dense vegetation. Nests are lined with plants and soft down. The female incubates and the male guards the female on the nest. Clutches consist of between 1 and 5 eggs, with an average of 3. Chicks are precocial, stop following parents within one year, and are sexually mature within 2 to 3 years.

Breeding interval: Breeding occurs once a year, though not all pairs lay eggs every year.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from August through April, with most activity from October to March.

Range eggs per season: 1 to 5.

Range time to hatching: 29 to 31 days.

Average fledging age: 3 months.

Average time to independence: 1 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 to 3 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 to 3 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

The female selects the nesting site, usually near her own natal site. Females dig a shallow scrape, usually under a bush or tree, and line the scrape with vegetation. Males rarely contribute to nest building. Females incubate the eggs, while the male guards her, though not constantly. The female spends roughly four hours of each day away from the nest, when she eats and rests. During hatching, the female spends more time on the nest, and stays on top of the young until their down dries. The young do not need to be fed by parents. Young readily forage within the first day. However, they remain close to their parents until roughly one year old.

Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Male, Female)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Branta sandvicensis

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


There are 2 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.

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGCATGAGCAGGAATAGTCGGCACCGCACTCAGCCTATTAATCCGCGCAGAACTAGGACAACCAGGGACTCTCCTAGGCGACGACCAAATTTACAATGTAATCGTCACCGCCCACGCCTTTGTGATAATCTTCTTTATAGTCATACCCATCATGATCGGAGGATTCGGCAACTGATTAGTACCCCTCATAATCGGCGCCCCCGACATAGCATTCCCCCGAATAAATAACATAAGCTTTTGACTCCTCCCACCATCATTCCTCTTACTACTAGCCTCATCCACTGTAGAAGCTGGCGCCGGTACAGGCTGAACTGTATACCCTCCCCTGGCAGGTAACCTCGCCCACGCCGGGGCTTCAGTAGACCTGGCTATTTTCTCGCTTCACTTAGCCGGTGTCTCCTCCATCCTTGGGGCCATCAACTTCATTACCACAGCCATCAACATAAAACCCCCCGCACTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCACTATTCGTCTGATCCGTCCTAATCACTGCCATCCTACTCCTCCTGTCGCTCCCCGTACTCGCCGCCGGCATCACAATGCTACTAACTGACCGAAACCTAAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCCGCCGGAGGGGGAGACCCAATCCTGTACCAGCACCTATTCTGATTCTTCGGACACCCAGAAGTCTACATCCTGATTCTG
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Branta sandvicensis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled

Reasons: Restricted to Hawaiian Islands; small wild population; most populations require ongoing restocking to maintain current numbers; threats to gosling survival are constant.

Other Considerations: Currently unavailable lowland habitat may be important for populations to become self-sustaining. This species is completely dependent upon releases of captive-bred stock to maintain its numbers in the wild (Black et al. 1991).

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
D1

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

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

Contributor/s
Baker, H., Baker, P., Black, J., Camp, R., Dibden-Young, A., Fretz, S., Gorresen, M., Hu, D., Marshall, A., Misajon, K., Morin, M., Telfer, T., Terry, C., VanderWerf, E., Woodworth, B. & Woog, F.

Justification
The overall population of this species has increased from a low of perhaps just 30 birds in the mid-1900s to over 2,000 individuals in 2011. The majority of the population outside Kaua'i does not breed successfully in the wild, so the effective population size is very small and consequently the species is listed as Vulnerable.

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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 03/11/1967
Lead Region:   Pacific Region (Region 1) 
Where Listed: Entire


Population detail:

Population location: Entire
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Branta sandvicensis, see its USFWS Species Profile

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Status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).
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Early Hawaiian settlers used nenes as a food source and hunted the birds to near extinction. In 1907, a hunting ban was placed on these birds, but still approached extinction by 1940 due to predation by introduced species as well as degradation of habitat and other human related destruction. In 1957, nenes were named the state bird in Hawaii and efforts to rescue the almost extinct population, including breeding in captivity and protecting nesting areas began. Though early programs for reintroducing birds into the wild failed, later ones have been very successful and the wild nene population is recovering at around 800 individuals. Currently the greatest threat to nenes is predation of eggs by introduced Indian mongooses (Herpestes javanicus).

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: appendix i

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Comments: USFWS (1990) categorized the status as "declining." Populations at Keeau (Hawaii) and on Kauai have increased dramatically, due to good lowland foraging habitat and few predators (Banko et al. 1999; Black et al. 1991). The upland Maui population "seems stable" (Banko et al. 1999).

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of >90%

Comments: Formerly abundant; extirpated first from lowlands; became extinct on Maui before 1890; nearly extinct in wild by 1951. Range and numbers subsequently increased through captive breeding and release, but most populations are not self-sustaining (Banko et al. 1999).

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Population

Population
The total population was estimated to be 1,241 individuals in 2004 (based on counts in 2003), 1,744 individuals in 2006 (A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007) and c.2,500 individuals in 2011 (A. Marshall in litt. 2012). However, it is expected that fewer than 1,000 have bred successfully in the wild, and maintenance of the current population relies partly on the regular release of captive bred individuals. Hence the effective number of mature individuals falls within the band 250-999.

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Degree of Threat: A : Very threatened throughout its range communities directly exploited or their composition and structure irreversibly threatened by man-made forces, including exotic species

Comments: Hunting, egg collecting, and predation contributed to the historic decline. Scarcity of native food plants, predation by introduced mammals, and perhaps habitat loss are probably the main reasons for continued difficulties. In certain areas, collisions with vehicles is the major cause of mortality. In general, populations are limited by food scarcity in highlands and by introduced predators in lowlands (Banko et al. 1999). Long-term survival outlook is unclear (Pratt et al. 1987). "Substantial additional efforts" are needed to counter these threats if the Nene is to recover fully (Banko et al. 1999).

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Major Threats
The development of agricultural systems by the Polynesians, and later by European settlers, resulted in the extensive loss and alteration of habitat (Olson and James 1991). A lack of suitable habitat, especially for rearing young, is the most important limiting factor, combined with predation by the introduced small Indian mongoose Herpestes auropunctatus (except on Kaua'i), dogs, cats, pigs and rats (Black et al. 1994, Black 1995, H. C. Baker and P. E. Baker in litt. 1999, T. C. Telfer in litt. 1999, A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007). Other threats include disease and parasites, inbreeding depression, loss of adaptive skills in captive-bred birds and dietary deficiencies. Feral cats carry the protozoan organism Toxoplasma gondii which causes toxoplasmosis, a disease that can be fatal in the species (Hess and Banko 2006). Road-kills are an important threat on Big Island (M. Morin in litt. 1999) and probably on Maui (A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007). Indeed road-kills were found to be the most common cause of known adult mortality on Big Island from 1989-1999 (Rave et al. 2005). Recruitment is low in this species, as found in the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park over the same period. Yearly average hatching success was only 55% (range 44-77%), probably because of introduced predators rather than inbreeding. A yearly average of only 30% (range 0-50%) of nestlings fledged, with most lost to starvation, dehydration and predation. Recruitment into the breeding population is low, with only 42% of tracked fledglings eventually attempting to breed. An average of 35% of the population breed each year, probably limited by food availability, which affects female condition. Drought is another limiting factor for this species (Rave et al. 2005).

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As the human population on Hawaii expanded nene numbers began to fall, and recent evidence suggests that the population already numbered less than 300 individuals many centuries ago (7). Following excessive hunting and loss of habitat just 20 to 30 individuals remained in 1949 (6). Hunters targeted birds during the breeding season when they were particularly vulnerable. Today the main threat to this species comes from a lack of suitable habitat and from introduced animals such as mongooses, feral dogs and cats, which prey on eggs and young birds (4). Factors such as inbreeding depression and disease transmission may also pose difficulties for captive-reared birds (5).
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Management

Management Requirements: Most populations are dependent on releases of captive-raised birds (Black et al. 1991).

Management at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Haleakala National Park has involved the use of predator-free nesting enclosures and reestablishment of native food plants (Matthews and Moseley 1990). See "Nene recovery plan" (1983). See also Kear and Berger (1980).

The presence of nene on and adjacent to runways at Lihue Airport on Kauai poses a potential management problem (End. Sp. Tech. Bull. 16(6):4).

A new captive propagation facility was completed at Olinda, Maui, in the late 1980s.

See USFWS (1990) for a brief recovery progress report.

Native forests should be restored to the highest degree possible. Continued eradication of alien species from the vicinity of occupied habitat areas is needed. Linking disjunct populations through reforestation efforts could improve the prospect for long term survival.

Management Research Needs: Investigate methods to alleviate threats from exotic predators.

Biological Research Needs: Further research on nutritional requirements is needed.

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Global Protection: Few to several (1-12) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Protected areas include Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakala national parks, Waikamoi Preserve, Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge; also Waimea Canyon, Na Pali Coast, and Kokee state parks. There are also five Nene sanctuaries (areas with some management).

Needs: Populations outside of the National Parks need protection. Many birds considered "protected" often move in and out of the national parks into areas lacking protection.

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. The species benefits from a suit of protected areas, including Hawai'i Volcanoes and Haleakallâ (Maui) national parks, Kîlauea Point (Kaua'i) and Hakalau Forest (Big Island) national wildlife refuges, and several state sanctuaries (Banko et al. 1997, C. Terry in litt. 1999). Extensive research has been conducted on factors limiting population growth (e.g. Bailey and Black 1995, Rave 1995, Rojek and Conant 1996). Predators are controlled, and supplementary food and water are sometimes provided at particular sites (C. Terry in litt. 1999, A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007). Despite the low average fledging success rate recorded in the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park from 1989-1999, this was more than double the rate in the previous 15 years, owing to predator control and supplementary feeding during breeding seasons (Rave et al. 2005). Other efforts have involved habitat restoration and reducing human disturbance, especially to breeding birds (Rave et al. 2005, A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007). Releases of captive birds continued until the late 2000s (A. Marshall, D. Hu and K. Misajon in litt. 2007), but have now ceased. Translocation of birds from Kaua'i to other islands is on-going, as there is a large population at Kaua'i Lagoons, near the airport (A. Marshall in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor population trends. Carry out further research into the factors limiting breeding and causing low recruitment. Manage and restore habitat, and control predators (Black 1995, Black 1998, Rave et al. 2005). Ensure Kaua'i remains mongoose-free (H. C. Baker and P. E. Baker in litt. 2000). Optimise genetic diversity in flocks with few founders (Rave 1995). Develop community education programme, particularly with regard to road-kills (Black 1995, C. Terry in litt. 1999, Rave et al. 2005). Establish large predator-free reserves in lowland areas with better quality forage in which the above targets can be addressed (H. C. Baker and P. E. Baker in litt. 1999, H. C. Baker and P. E. Baker in litt. 2000). Expand habitat restoration efforts. In the Hawai'i Volcanoes and Haleakalâ national parks, prevent visitors from feeding the birds and speeding (Rave et al. 2005). Conduct a telemetry study to determine habitat use outside of the breeding season, as non-breeding areas have been largely unstudied (A. Marshall in litt. 2012).

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Conservation

The nene has been rescued from the brink of extinction by a long-running conservation programme (6). Breeding programmes in both Hawaii and at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Britain have been working to breed captive birds for release into the wild (10). By 1997, 2,450 birds had been released (2) and by 1999 the total population was estimated at 960 to 1,000 birds (5). Nene are protected within national parks on both Hawaii and Maui, and within these areas predators are controlled to a limited degree (5). Although reintroduced populations are still not completely self-sustaining, the nene nevertheless represents a major conservation success story.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Since they fly low, nenes often collide with fences and automobiles. Otherwise, there are no known adverse effects of nens on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Nenes are the state bird of Hawaii and are thus a state symbol.

Positive Impacts: ecotourism

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Wikipedia

Nene (bird)

The nene, also known as nēnē and Hawaiian goose, (Branta sandvicensis) is a species of goose endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. The official bird of the state of Hawaiʻi, the nene is exclusively found in the wild on the islands of Oahu,[2] Maui, Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi.

The Hawaiian name nēnē comes from its soft call.[3] The species name sandvicensis refers to the Sandwich Islands, an old name for the Hawaiian Islands.[4]

Evolution[edit]

The nene evolved from the Canada goose (Branta canadensis), which most likely arrived on the Hawaiian islands about 500,000 years ago, shortly after the island of Hawaiʻi was formed. This ancestor is the progenitor of the nene as well as the prehistoric Giant Hawaiʻi goose[5] and nēnē-nui (Branta hylobadistes). The nēnē-nui was larger than the nene, varied from flightless to flighted depending on the individual, and inhabited the island of Maui. Similar fossil geese found on Oʻahu and Kauaʻi may be of the same species. The Giant Hawaiʻi goose was restricted to the island of Hawaiʻi and measured 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) in length with a mass of 8.6 kilograms (19 lb), making it more than four times larger than the nene. It is believed that the herbivorous Giant Hawaiʻi goose occupied the same ecological niche as the goose-like ducks known as moa-nalo, which were not present on the Big Island.[6] Based on mitochondrial DNA found in fossils, all Hawaiian geese, living and dead, are closely related to the giant Canada goose (B. c. maxima) and dusky Canada goose (B. c. occidentalis).[5]

Description[edit]

Chick on Kauai

The nene is a medium-sized goose at 41 centimetres (16 in) tall. Although they spend most of their time on the ground, they are capable of flight, with some individuals flying daily between nesting and feeding areas. Females have a mass of 1.525–2.56 kilograms (3.36–5.64 lb), while males average 1.695–3.05 kilograms (3.74–6.72 lb), 11% larger than females.[7] Adult males have a black head and hindneck, buff cheeks and heavily furrowed neck.[8] The neck has black and white diagonal stripes.[8] Aside from being smaller, the female nene is similar to the male in colouration. The adult's bill, legs and feet are black. It has soft feathers under its chin. Goslings resemble the male, but are a duller brown and with less demarcation between the colours of the head and neck, and striping and barring effects are much reduced. The bill, legs and feet are the same as for the adult.[8] Its strong toes are padded and have reduced webbing, an adaptation that allows it to swiftly traverse rough terrain such as lava plains.[9]

Habitat and range[edit]

The nene could at one time be found on the islands of Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, and Kauaʻi. Today, its range is restricted to Hawaiʻi, Maui, Molokaʻi, and Kauaʻi. The nene is an inhabitant of shrubland, grassland, coastal dunes, and lava plains, and related anthropogenic habitats such as pasture and golf courses from sea level to as much as 2,400 metres (7,900 ft).[10] Some populations migrated between lowland breeding grounds and montane foraging areas.[9]

Breeding[edit]

The breeding season of the nene, from August to April, is longer than that of any other goose;[11] most eggs are laid between November and January.[7] Unlike most other waterfowl, the nene mates on land.[8] Nests are built by females on a site of their choosing, in which one to five eggs are laid (average is three on Maui and Hawaiʻi, four on Kauaʻi). Females incubate the eggs for 29 to 32 days, while the male acts as a sentry. Goslings are precocial, able to feed on their own; they remain with their parents until the following breeding season.[7]

Diet[edit]

The nene is a herbivore that will either graze or browse, depending on the availability of vegetation. Food items include the leaves, seeds, fruit, and flowers of grasses and shrubs.[12]

Conservation[edit]

The nene is the world's rarest goose.[13] It is believed that it once was common, with approximately 25,000 Hawaiian geese living in Hawaiʻi when Captain James Cook arrived in 1778.[8] However, hunting and introduced predators, such as small Asian mongooses, pigs, and cats, reduced the population to 30 birds by 1952.[8] Nevertheless, this species breeds well in captivity, and has been successfully re-introduced; in 2004, it was estimated that there were 800 birds in the wild, as well as 1000 in wildfowl collections and zoos.[8] However, there is some concern of inbreeding due to the small initial population of birds. The nature reserve WWT Slimbridge, in England, was instrumental in the successful breeding of Hawaiian geese in captivity. Under the direction of the leading conservationist Peter Scott, it was bred back from the brink of extinction during the 1950s for later re-introduction into the wild in Hawaiʻi. There are still Hawaiian geese at Slimbridge today. They can now be found in captivity in every WWT centre. Successful introductions include Haleakala and Piʻiholo ranches on Maui.[14][15] The nene population stands at 2500 birds.

State bird[edit]

The nene is the state bird of Hawaii.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Branta sandvicensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Nene geese on Oahu for first time since 1700s". Hawaii News Now. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  3. ^ Pukui and Elbert (2003). "lookup of nēnē". on Hawaiian dictionary. Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library, University of Hawaii. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  4. ^ Jobling, James A (1991). A Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. OUP. ISBN 0 19 854634 3. 
  5. ^ a b Harder, Ben (2002-02-06). "State Bird of Hawaii Unmasked as Canadian". National Geographic News (National Geographic Society). Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  6. ^ Ziegler, Alan C. (2002). Hawaiian Natural History, Ecology, and Evolution. University of Hawaiʻi Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-0-8248-2190-6. 
  7. ^ a b c Reading, Richard P.; Brian Miller (2000). Endangered animals: A Reference Guide to Conflicting Issues. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 142–146. ISBN 978-0-313-30816-1. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Ellis, Richard (2004). No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species. New York City: Harper Perennial. pp. 280–281. ISBN 0-06-055804-0. 
  9. ^ a b Banko, Paul C.; Jeffrey M. Black; Winston E. Banko (1999). "Hawaiian Goose (Branta sandvicensis)". In A. Poole. Birds of North America Online (434). Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  10. ^ "Nene or Hawaiian Goose" (PDF). State of Hawaiʻi. 2005-03-25. 
  11. ^ "Hawaiian Goose (Branta sandvicensis)". Audubon Watchlist. National Audubon Society. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  12. ^ http://www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dofaw/cwcs/files/3.29.05%20Fact%20Sheets/Nene.pdf
  13. ^ Marine Wildlife Photography
  14. ^ "Safe Harbor Agreement for the introduction of the nene to Piiholo Ranch, Maui". State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources. August 2004. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  15. ^ Bill Standley (August 2004). "Ranchers Advance Recovery of Rare Hawaiian Bird". web site. Environmental Defense Fund. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Formerly included in the genus NESOCHEN; included in BRANTA by the American Ornithologists' Union (1993). Mitochondrial DNA data and geologically calibrated estimates of time indicate that the Hawaiian Goose and the Canada Goose diverged from a common ancestor 0.82 to 1.08 million years ago (Paxinos 1998; Quinn et al. 1991).

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