Habitat and Ecology
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
CITES Appendix I. In 2007, a species recovery plan was produced with the goal of securing in the wild a combined protected population of 2,000 birds at 5-10 managed sites by 2010. Following a major audit of the recovery programme in 2000 the population has begun to increase. Over 200 birds are held in captivity. Although initial mainland releases totalling over 1,000 birds (Williams and Dumbell 1996) failed, releases are now conducted in combination with intensive predator control and breeding populations appear to have become established in several locations (Heather and Robertson 1997, Hayes 2006, O'Connor et al. 2007, Sim and Roxburgh 2007), and that the species's total population is entering a recovery phase (Hayes 2010, A. Booth et al. in litt. 2012). At least 139 individuals have now been released in a predator-controlled area of Fiordland on the South Island with the hope of establishing a population (Anon. 2011). Predator control, including that of Purple Gallinule (Pukeko), on Great Barrier Island has also led to stability in this population (Hayes 2010). Hazing fences on roads have been erected to force ducks to either fly or use culverts when passing between favoured feeding sites, these have met with success and are planned for more areas (Hayes 2006, Sim and Roxburgh 2007). Habitat is being restored in Northland and Coromandel with the co-operation of local landowners, and some wetlands are grazed to create improved conditions for teal (Sim and Roxburgh 2007). Research is on-going, focusing on management techniques and habitat requirements (Williams and Dumbell 1996). Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to implement the species recovery plan. Continue to maintain a viable breeding population at a minimum of two locations on the North Island mainland. Continue measures to increase the population on Great Barrier Island. Continue predator control measures at key sites. Erect more hazing fences in areas where road mortality is greatest. Continue the captive breeding programme as a source of birds for translocations. Continue to encourage public support and involvement (Williams and Dumbell 1996). Conduct research into seasonal starvation events (A. Booth et al. in litt. 2012). Carry out studies into habitat use by the species. Conduct research into causes of declines.
The brown teal (Anas chlorotis) is a species of dabbling duck of the genus Anas. The Māori name for it is pāteke. For many years it had been considered to be conspecific with the flightless Auckland and Campbell teals in Anas aucklandica; the name "brown teal" has also been largely applied to that entire taxon. Common in the early years of European colonisation, the "brown duck" (as it had been often referred to as) was heavily harvested as a food source. Its numbers quickly fell, especially in the South Island, & in 1921 they became fully protected. Captive breeding & releasing into predator-controlled areas has seen good localised populations re-introduced around the country in recent years.
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Pateke is the progenitor of the flightless Auckland teal and Campbell teals but all are now recognised as separate species on account of their geographic isolation and their plumage, size and genetic distinctions. The insular A. aucklandica and A. nesiotis are recognised as good species, but are still sometimes referred to as being part of the "brown teal group". The use of the name 'pateke' is now common & is specific for this species in question.
Concerns have been raised about establishing genetically similar populations during re-introduction. The original captive pateke were sourced from Great Barrier Island, where only one haplotype was found in abundance, compared with eleven haplotypes found in the other remaining population at Mimiwhangata. The newly released flocks exclusively contain these birds of captive origin, & diversity is perhaps now not being fully represented in the National population
The former population of Fiordland brown teal, which died out by 2013 has been replaced with captive-origin birds. Sequencing showed striking similarity to grey duck and mallard sequences, with which they group. It therefore seems extremely likely that the former Fiordland population of brown teal have at sometime in the past hybridised extensively with these invading species
The brown teal is largely nocturnal in habit by dabbling duck standards. This is an evolutionary response to natural diurnal predators such as the New Zealand falcon, Eyles' harrier, or skuas further south in their range. Brown teal have no defense against introduced cats, dogs, stoats & ferrets, which can kill adults & ducklings, or against rats which eat eggs.
It feeds by dabbling and upending, like its relatives. Its diet consists mainly of aquatic invertebrates like insects and their larvae, or crustaceans. It appears quite fond of mollusks. Small species such as pipi (Paphies australis) and large wedge shell (Macomona liliana) are eaten whole and crushed in the gizzard. For feeding on larger cockles such as Austrovenus stutchburyi (New Zealand cockle), at least some New Zealand teals have developed a peculiar technique, as of now undocumented in other birds, to force their rather soft bills between the cockle shells and tear out the flesh with a jackhammer-like pumping motion. At night brown teal will forage on land some distance from the streams used as a refuge during the day (Worthy 2002).
Nest of dry grass near water or under shelter of large Carex, heavily lined with down. A clutch of four to eight creamy-brown eggs is laid. Incubation by the female alone, takes 27–30 days. The male stays in his territory as a guard, aggressive to all other waterfowl.
Distribution & conservation
This species is endangered and occurs predominantly on offshore islands but also in predator-proof sanctuaries on the mainland such as Tawharanui Regional Park. Formerly, it was widespread on the New Zealand mainland, but it disappeared there due to introduced predators like cats, dogs and rats, which easily preyed on this unwary, weakly flying bird. According to the IUCN categorization as VU D1, fewer than 1000 adult birds remain. The species has recently been upgraded to endangered by Birdlife International (Birdlife 2007), and the change will be reflected in the next update of the IUCN red list.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Anas chlorotis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Bowker-Wright, Gemma; Loss of Genetic Diversity with Captive Breeding and Re-Introduction: A Case Study on Pateke/Brown Teal (Anas chlorotis) 2008
- Hyslop, L. & Kenny, K. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/national/9396503/South-Island-duck-extinct
- Gemmell, NJ., Flint, H.J., 2000. Taxonomic status of the brown teal (Anas chlorotis) in Fiordland. Conservation Advisory Science Notes, No. 326, Department of Conservation, Wellington
- Perrine Moncrieff; New Zealand Birds and How to Identify Them
- M.J. Williams, BSc (Hons), PhD
- M.J. Williams, BSc (Hons), PhD
- BirdLife International (2007) Species factsheet: Anas chlorotis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 5/9/2007
- Moore, Suzanne J. & Battley, Phil F. (2003): Cockle-opening by a dabbling duck, the Brown Teal. Waterbirds 26(3): 331-334. DOI:10.1675/1524-4695(2003)026[0331:CBADDT]2.0.CO;2 PDF fulltext
- Worthy, T.H. & Holdaway, R.N. (2002) The Lost World of the Moa, Indiana University Press:Bloomington, ISBN 0-253-34034-9
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