Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Having evolved in an environment without any mammalian predators, kiwis have some distinctly mammal-like traits. For example, body temperature is 38 degrees Celsius, about 2 degrees Celsius lower than most birds (4), but within the normal range for many mammals (5). Kiwis also have an excellent sense of smell, one of the most developed among birds, aided by the unique placement of the nostrils at the end of the bill (5). Kiwis feed by jabbing the bill into the soil to search for insects and worms, this causes the nostrils to become clogged, and requires vigorous blowing and sneezing to clear them again (4). The tokoeka is highly territorial and has been known to attack humans when defending its territory (3). Unlike most other kiwis, which tend be more solitary, the tokoeka lives in family groups occupying a shared territory, the size of which depends on food abundance (4). Egg laying begins in July, continuing through to November in the Stewart Island populations and December in the South Island populations (5). A single egg is laid within a small burrow, and both parent birds and other birds within the family share incubation duties. This is a useful behaviour, since the incubation time is extremely long, usually between 70 and 80 days (4). During this time the males and females shed feathers from the breast, leaving a naked patch that is thought to help transfer heat to the egg during incubation. The chicks, which hatch fully fledged, leave the nest at one week old, but will remain in the family territory for up to seven years (5).
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Description

The tokoeka is one of five recognised species of kiwi, the iconic, flightless birds that are only found in New Zealand (3). This species is divided into two distinct, geographically separated races commonly known as the southern tokoeka and the Haast tokoeka. Both races have the distinctive kiwi features, a pear-shaped body that lacks a tail, and wings that are so reduced that they are barely noticeable. The plumage appears to be almost hair-like, a result of the loose structure of the feathers, which do not lock together as in other birds. Colouration varies between the two races, with the Haast tokoeka having reddish-brown plumage, while the southern tokoeka is grey-brown with black streaks. The kiwi's long, slender bill is unusual compared to other birds, in that it has nostrils at its tip. While both races of tokoeka have an ivory coloured bill, the southern tokoeka's bill is straight, whereas the bill of the Haast tokoeka, in contrast to all other kiwis, is markedly down-curved (4). In the wild, the tokoeka can be easily identified by its call, in the male this is a shrill ascending and descending whistle, while in the female it is lower-pitched and hoarse (2).
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Distribution

Range Description

Apteryx australis is restricted to Fiordland and Stewart Island, with an isolated population near Haast, New Zealand.

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Geographic Range

Apteryx australis, commonly known as brown kiwis, is located in the Australian biogeographic region. They are endemic to New Zealand, and reside on North Island (in Northland and Taranaki), South island (in Fiordland and Westland), and Stewart Island.

Apteryx australis is considered by some authors to be made up of two, distinct species, corresponding to the previously recognized subspecies A. australis mantelli - now A. mantelli, and A. australis australis and A. australis lawryi - both retained within A. australis. North Island brown kiwis (A. mantelli) are the most common kind of kiwi, found only on the North Island of New Zealand. Apteryx australis includes populations on Stewart Island (A. a. lawryi) and South Island (A. a. australis), including populations in the Haast range and the fiordlands. Populations in the Haast range (Haast tokoekas) may represent a distinct species as well.

The population of brown kiwis found in Okarito forests on the western coast of the South Island was recently recognized as a distinct species, Apteryx rowi, Okarito brown kiwis or rowis. It is thought that this species is made up of only 200 individuals currently.

Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

  • Turbott, F. 1967. A Field Guide To The Birds Of New Zealand. Boston, Ma: The Riverside Press Cambridge.
  • Burton, R. 1985. Bird Behavior. New York, New York: Roxby Natural History Limited.
  • Tennyson, A., R. Palma, H. Robertson, T. Worthy, B. Gill. 2003. A new species of kiwi (Aves, Apterygiformes) from Okarito, New Zealand. Records of the Auckland Museum, 40: 55-64.
  • Baker, A., C. Daugherty, R. Colbourne, J. McLennan. 1995. Flightless Brown Kiwis of New Zealand Possess Extremely Subdivided Population Structure and Cryptic Species Like Small Mammals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 92: 8254-8258.
  • FONZ. 2006. "Answers to Kiwi Questions" (On-line). Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Accessed November 08, 2006 at http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Birds/Ask_a_kori_bustard_question/kiwiQandAs.cfm.
  • Bank of New Zealand Kiwi Recovery™ Trust, Bank of New Zealand, and Department of Conservatio. 2002. "Department of Conservation" (On-line). Save the Kiwi. Accessed October 09, 2006 at http://www.savethekiwi.org.nz/AboutTheBird/KiwiLifeCycle/Mating.htm.
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Range

Endemic to New Zealand, the southern tokoeka's range is limited to Stewart Island and Fiordland on South Island. The Haast tokoeka has a small, isolated population near Haast on the west coast of South Island (2), and a colony of 50 birds has been introduced to Kapiti Island (4).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Brown kiwis are members of the flightless ratite group (Struthioniformes). They are unique in their small size and adaptations to forest floor life. These birds are roughly the size of a chicken, with the female being slightly larger. They range in size from 45 to 54 cm long, and weigh from 2.8 to 3.5 kg. They are brownish grey in color with long, soft feathers that look and feel very fur-like. Their skin is tough and they have whiskers at the base of their bill used for touch. This is especially important for these birds because they have small eyes and poor vision. These birds do not have a tail and their 5 cm long wings prevent them from flying.  Brown kiwis have powerful legs and can run quickly. The nostrils are at the end of their long bills and they have a keen sense of smell. The birds thrust their bill into the ground, gather the food, and beat the prey on the ground before they consume it. Other characteristics include heavy bone marrow, a body temperature lower than most other birds, and underdeveloped pectoral muscles. Brown kiwis have body temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius.

Range mass: 2.8 to 3.5 kg.

Range length: 45 to 54 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike; female larger

Average basal metabolic rate: 4.029 W.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It occurs in a variety of habitats ranging from coastal sand dunes on Stewart Island to forest, subalpine scrub and tussock grasslands in Fiordland. It feeds primarily on invertebrates but fallen fruit and leaves are also taken. It lays just one egg, usually in a burrow (Marchant and Higgins 1990, H. A. Robertson in litt. 1999). The incubation period is amongst the longest for any bird at between 74 and 84 days (Calder et al. 1978). Chicks hatch fully-feathered, and first leave the nest unaccompanied after about a week. It is long-lived, with generation time taken to be 30-50 years (H. A. Robertson in litt. 2012).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Brown kiwis live in subtropical and temperate forests and grasslands. They prefer to live in large, dark forest areas, which allow camouflage for the birds as they sleep during the day. In undisturbed habitats, kiwis create burrows under stones, banks of streams, or in soft flat open ground. In disturbed areas, these birds have had to adapt to human presence by establishing burrows in rough farmland under logs and shrubs.

Range elevation: 0 to 1,200 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

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The tokoeka occurs in a wide range of habitats, from coastal sand dunes to forest, tussock grassland and sub-alpine shrubs (2). It has even been found burrowing into snow for shelter on mountain slopes during the winter (4).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Brown kiwis are carnivorous, they feed mainly on soil and aquatic invertebrates such as worms, insects, crayfish, amphibians, and eels. They also eat fruit. At night, these birds use their long bills to dig deep into the ground to find creatures living on the ground. After they have caught something, they use their bills to beat the creature on the ground, or on stones to kill it before eating. Cone-shape holes left in the ground after hunting are easy ways to discover their occurrence in an area.

Animal Foods: amphibians; fish; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks; terrestrial worms; aquatic crustaceans

Plant Foods: fruit

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods, Vermivore)

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Brown kiwis are important predators of invertebrates and may disperse seeds through their fruit eating.

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Predation

Brown kiwis have many introduced predators, although they had few predators before dogs, pigs, cats, brush-tailed possums, and stoats were introduced to New Zealand. Dogs, pigs and cats tend to feed on adult birds. Stoats and cats feed on the young, and possums and stoats destroy kiwi eggs.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Brown kiwis communicate through a cry, which sounds like a prolonged whistle slightly ascending and descending. Males make a mournful shriek, "kee-wee," and females have a low hoarse cry. Chicks tend to make a clicking sound. The cry indicates their presence at night, and helps in finding mates. They also congregate in companies from six to twelve. To hear the cry of brown kiwis, click here:   http://www.nzbirds.com/birds/sound/brownkiwi2.wav 

Kiwis are unusual among birds in having a keen sense of smell. They have an enlarged olfactory bulb.

Communication Channels: acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

The expected lifespan of brown kiwis after their first twelve months of their life is approximately 20 years in the wild. When in captivity, these birds usually live to be 30 years old, but some have lived up to 40 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
20 years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
40 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
20 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
30 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
35.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 35 years (captivity) Observations: In captivity, these animals have been reported to live up to 35 years (http://www.demogr.mpg.de/longevityrecords). There are also anecdotal claims that they can live up to 40 years in captivity.
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Reproduction

Brown kiwis meet in nesting burrows every few days and call to each other at night to begin mating. This ritual occurs between March and June. The relationship is volatile and physical with the females primarily being the dominant one. They are monogamous unless a “better” mate comes along.

Mating System: monogamous

Brown kiwis breed throughout the year but only lay one egg at a time. A second egg might be laid four to six weeks after the first one. The eggs are unique because of their size relative to the adult bird's mass. Brown kiwi eggs are one-third of the female's mass, making them the largest eggs (relative to mass) of any bird. Incubation period lasts up to eleven weeks and the chicks are ready to leave the nest in approximately six to ten days. Females reach sexual maturity on average between the ages of three and five. Males reach this sexual maturity in approximately 18 months.

Breeding interval: Brown kiwis can reproduce as often as every 4 to 6 weeks. However, the massive energy investment that each female makes into any single egg means that she will not often lay eggs that frequently.

Breeding season: Brown kiwis breed throughout the year.

Range eggs per season: 1 to 1.

Average time to hatching: 11 weeks.

Range fledging age: 6 to 10 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 3- 5 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 18 months months.

Key Reproductive Features: year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

Average birth mass: 325 g.

Average time to hatching: 75 days.

Average eggs per season: 1.

Female brown kiwis dig out the nest and deposit the kiwi eggs, which are smooth and are either ivory or light green in color. After the eggs are laid, males take over incubation and nest maintenance until the eggs hatch. During this time males lose one-third of their weight. After hatching, the chicks do not rely on parents for food. They survive from the copious amount of yolk in their belly. Kiwi chicks venture out of the burrow soon after hatching, although there have been reports of chicks being near their parents for up to a year. Because kiwi chicks are slow, small (weighting only 275 grams and being five inches), and unable to respond to predators, few survive to twelve months old. After that time, they reach a size that enables them to escape most predators.

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

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Apteryx australis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 14
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2be+3be+4be

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S.

Contributor/s
Robertson, H. & Weeber, B.

Justification
Mainland populations of this species may be in extremely rapid decline, based on probable annual declines caused by introduced species. However, the large Stewart Island population may be stable, and thus the overall decline is likely to be slower, but still rapid, warranting Vulnerable status.


History
  • 2012
    Vulnerable
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Brown kiwis are considered vulnerable by the IUCN. Currently, there are an estimated 27,000 brown kiwis. The primary threat to these birds is predation by introduced mammals. Populations seem to be declining.

US Migratory Bird Act: no special status

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable

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Status

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

Population
The 2008 total population was estimated at 29,800 birds (Holzapfel et al. 2008, H. Robertson in litt. 2012), similar to the estimate of 27,225 (± c.25%) birds in 1996 (Robertson 2003). The species is common on Stewart Island but is thought to be declining (from c.20,000 birds in 1996 [Robertson 2003] to 15,000 in 2008 [Holzapfel et al. 2008]) and in localised areas in northern Fiordland (10,000 birds) and southern Fiordland (4,500 birds) (Heather and Robertson 1997, Holzapfel et al. 2008). The Haast population was reported as 300 individuals by Holzapfel et al. (2008). The estimate of c.29,800 birds suggests that there are c.19,900 mature individuals, on the basis that they account for around 2/3 of the population.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The impact of introduced predators is the greatest threat: brush-tailed possum Trichosurus vulpecula and stoat Mustela erminea eat eggs, M. erminea and cats eat chicks and juveniles up to c.1,200 g, and dogs, ferrets M. furo, and T. vulpecula kill juveniles and adults (McLennan et al. 1996, McLennan 2004). Predation pressure is possibly lower on Stewart Island where mustelids are absent, and dogs are prohibited from most of the island (H. A. Robertson in litt. 1999). However, cats are widespread and common (H. A. Robertson in litt. 2012). The rate of loss of native habitat has declined markedly and this is not currently considered a driver for population reductions (Robertson 2010). New avian diseases and pathogens are a potential threat, particularly with the importation of non-native but closely related ratites to New Zealand (Holzapfel et al. 2008). The Haast population is at risk from stochastic events due to the small population size and isolation and suffers from low fecundity (Holzapfel et al. 2008).

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The main threat to all kiwi species has been the introduction of mammalian predators to the environment, particularly stoats (Mustela erminea) and brush-tailed possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), which eat kiwi eggs, chicks and juveniles. Predation by domestic dogs and feral cats has also had a significant impact in some regions (2). As a direct result of predation by introduced species, the tokoeka populations on South Island have undergone dramatic decreases. In 1996 the total population of the Haast tokoeka, the rarest of all kiwi races, was estimated at just 225 individuals (5). In contrast, the southern tokoeka population on Stewart Island is currently the most abundant of all the kiwi species populations, due to the island being free from introduced stoats and weasels. As a result of the Stewart Island population's stability and abundance, the tokoeka's current status is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN. However, this should not mask the fact that the South Island populations are much smaller and at far greater risk (2).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
Monitoring is nationally coordinated, and uses call-counts, specially-trained dogs searching for banded birds, and radio-tracking (Holzapfel et al. 2008). Intensive management involving predator control and removing and incubating eggs and returning subadults once large enough to fend off predators is taking place within the Haast population. The latter approach has been funded by the Bank of New Zealand programme since 1995 under the name Operation Nest Egg (ONE) (Colbourne et al. 2005), and is succeeding in increasing the population of A. australis 'Haast' (Holzapfel et al. 2008, Robertson et al. 2010). Research has focused on the Haast, Clinton valley, Murchison Mountains and Stewart Island populations, and involves taxonomy, investigating the effects of predators and their management, ecology and the social structure of populations (H. A. Robertson in litt. 1999). Many national and overseas captive populations are held (Heather and Robertson 1997).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey populations in Fiordland and undertake population modelling of all taxa. Clarify the taxonomy of the species. Research reasons for low productivity in the Haast population. Evaluate the success of translocations and support the development of a structured captive breeding programme. Intensively manage the Haast population and at least one other mainland population using the ONE programme with the goal of doubling the population (Holzapfel et al. 2008). Investigate landscape-scale remote monitoring techniques for sparse populations (Holzapfel et al. 2008). Maintain the mustelid-free status of Stewart Island (H. A. Robertson in litt. 2012). Promote legislative and policy changes to protect populations and encourage high-quality advocacy at all levels (Robertson 1998, Holzapfel et al. 2008). Educate and inform the public and encourage community involvement in Kiwi conservation (Robertson 2003, Holzapfel et al. 2008).

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Conservation

In 1991, having realised the plight of their national bird, the New Zealand Department of Conservation, sponsored by the Bank of New Zealand, launched the Kiwi Recovery Program. This ongoing project has involved various conservation strategies including predator control, the creation of kiwi sanctuaries, public outreach and education, as well as a captive breeding program known as Operation Nest Egg (6). Due to the very low abundance of the Haast tokoeka, one of the five kiwi sanctuaries, created in 2000, was chosen to be placed within the Haast tokoeka's range. While extensive efforts have been made in this region to trap stoats and thereby reduce predation, inhospitable climate and terrain have made this difficult (6). Other conservation strategies for the Haast tokoeka include the translocation of 50 individuals to Kapiti Island where predation is believed to be less intense (4). The Kiwi Recovery Program's goals for the period 2006 to 2016 are to continue with current strategies, to increase the public's awareness and involvement in kiwi conservation, and to work towards legislative measures to ensure that dogs are kept under control by their owners (6). These measures should hopefully ensure the survival and recovery of all species of kiwi.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of brown kiwis on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Initially hunted to make cloaks and for food, kiwis, including brown kiwis, are the national symbol of New Zealand. Much pride is taken by displaying the kiwi on things such as the national currency, sports uniforms, road signs and mascots.

Positive Impacts: body parts are source of valuable material; ecotourism ; research and education

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Wikipedia

Southern Brown Kiwi

The Southern Brown Kiwi, Tokoeka, or Common kiwi,[2] Apteryx australis, is a species of kiwi from New Zealand's South Island. Until 2000 it was considered conspecific with the North Island Brown Kiwi, and still is by some authorities.

Taxonomy[edit]

Apteryx australis is based on Greek and Latin. Apteryx means "A-" without "pterux" wings, and "australis" from "auster" the south wind, and "-alis" relating to. Hence Relating to the south wind is the meaning of Australis, not Australia.[4] The Southern Brown Kiwi belongs to the Kiwi family and it is a ratite, and a member of the order Struthioniformes. Like all ratites, its sternum has no keel, it is flightless, and it has a distinctive palate.[2]

The Southern Brown Kiwi is divided into two subspecies:

  • A. a. australis, South Island Brown Kiwi, with a population of approximately 7,000 birds is found on the South Island of New Zealand. A disjunct population, near Haast, called the Haast Brown Kiwi (not to be confused with Apteryx haastii), is rare (with only about 250 specimens left) and is characterised by its rufous plumage.[5]
  • A. a. lawryi, Stewart Island Brown Kiwi is relatively common (20,000 birds) throughout its range, with about 17 birds per square kilometre. Its feathers are streaked lengthwise with reddish-brown.[5]

Description[edit]

Dissected specimen, with exposed muscles and wing-claw

It has no preen gland, and its feathers have no aftershafts and no barbules. There are large vibrissae around its gape, and it has no tail, only a pygostyle. It has a length of 45–55 cm (18–22 in) and the female weighs 2.1–3.9 kg (4.6–8.6 lb) and the male weighs 1.6–2.8 kg (3.5–6.2 lb). Its bill is long and slender with a slight down-curve. Like other kiwis it is nocturnal. The colour of its plumage is rufous with some streaking.[2]

Behaviour[edit]

Vocalisation[edit]

Southern Brown Kiwi communicate vocally to aid in defending their territory. They will also sing duets with each other, with the female shrill "kee-wee" or "kee-kee" and the males hoarse " kurr kurr". Males are more vocal and they both call in an upright position with their legs stretched out and their bill pointing up.[2]

Diet[edit]

Specimen foraging on Stewart Island

The Southern Brown Kiwi has a long slender bill with lateral nostrils at the tip, which helps give them their keen sense of smell. They utilise this, more than sight and sound, to forage in dirt for invertebrates, including earthworms, beetle larvae, snails, spiders, centipedes, and orthoptera. Its gizzard is weak, and underutilised due to the lack of plant matter. Its caeca are long and narrow and aid in digestion.[2]

Reproduction[edit]

The Southern Brown Kiwi, like all kiwi, has two functioning ovaries, however only the left oviduct functions, allowing eggs from both ovaries to pass through. It is a monogamous species and once paired up, they will defend their territories with warning calls. The size of their territory is between 4.9 and 43 hectares (12 and 110 acres). Nests are made in burrows, or sheltered beneath thick vegetation. The female lays 1–2 eggs, typically just 1, which the male incubates for 90 days. After a few days the chick will exit the nest and feed on its own, although it may stay around parents for a year. When not incubating eggs, they roost alone in sheltered places at ground level.[2]

Range and habitat[edit]

Breeding Population and Trends[5]
LocationPopulationDateTrend
Stewart Island20,0001996Stable
Fiordland7,0001996−5.8% yr decreasing
Haast300[6]2008Increasing
Total (New Zealand)27,0001996Stable

Southern Brown Kiwi live in the South Island and Stewart Island. On the mainland (South Island) they live in Fiordland and Westland. Their range is temperate and sub-tropical forests, grassland, and shrubland, the denser the better.[2] They are widespread throughout Stewart Island where they also live on the sand dunes.[5]

Conservation[edit]

In 2000, after being recognised by IUCN, they were placed in the Vulnerable status group.[1] They have an occurrence range of 9,800 km2 (3,800 sq mi) and population of 27,000, estimated in 1996.[5] Brush-tailed possums, Trichosurus vulpecula, and stoats, Mustela erminea, will eat the eggs, while stoats and cats will eat chicks and juveniles. Adults are also under threat as dogs, ferrets, and brush-tailed possums, attack them and the juveniles. The Stewart Island population is stable due to the lack of these predators,[1] however stoats may have colonised the island in 2000.[5]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2013). "Apteryx australis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Davies, S. J. J. F. (2003)
  3. ^ a b Brands, S. (2008)
  4. ^ Gotch, A. F. (1995)
  5. ^ a b c d e f BirdLand International (2008)
  6. ^ Save the Kiwi (2008)

References[edit]

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