Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Coturnix novaezelandiae was endemic to North, South and Great Barrier Islands, New Zealand (Marchant and Higgins 1993). It was considered fairly common until the mid-19th century, but declined rapidly to extinction by 1875 (Holdaway 1999). Recent suggestions that a quail population on Tiritiri Matangi Island may be a surviving form of this species were disproven by genetic testing, showing them to be Brown Quail C. ypsilophora (Seabrook-Davison et al. 2009).

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New Zealand quail were the only quail endemic to New Zealand (Alderton, 1992) and they are now extinct (Brooks, 2000).

Biogeographic Regions: oceanic islands (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

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Range

Formerly New Zealand. Extinct; last reported 1875.
  • 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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Physical Description

Morphology

New Zealand quail were 17.5 (Alderton, 1992) to 22 cm (Madge and McGowan, 2002) long and weighed 200 to 220 g. Measurements of two males showed wing lengths of 118 and 122 mm, tail lengths of 45 and 47 mm and a tarsal length of 23 mm. For one female specimen, wing length was 119 mm and for two female specimens, tail lengths were 42 and 43 mm and tarsal lengths were 23 and 28 mm (Madge and McGowan, 2002).

New Zealand quail were a dark brownish color above with buff to cream-colored vertical markings on each feather covering the back and upper parts of the wings. The wing primaries were edged in a golden buff. The breast and abdomen of the male were buff with heavy markings of dark brown to black. The female had a buff breast and abdomen with feathers edged in a dark brown. For the male, an orangish-light rufous color covered the area around the eye extending down the side of the face and the front of the throat. For the female, this area was a light buff color with a darker buff surrounding the eye. Both males and females had a brown crown and a whitish strip extending from the beak over the eye to the back of the neck (Alderton, 1992). New Zealand quail on the North Island may have been darker overall than those on the South Island, however, with few specimen available it is difficult to determine the range of morphological variation. Juveniles were similar in color to females, but had more pale coloration on their underparts (Madge and McGowan, 2002).

Range mass: 200 to 220 g.

Range length: 17.5 to 22 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabited open habitats, especially grass-covered downs.


Systems
  • Terrestrial
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These quail were terrestrial, temperate species that inhabited grasslands (Johnsgard, 1988) and perhaps lowland tussock grassland and open fernlands (Madge and McGowan, 2002).

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland

  • Madge, S., P. McGowan. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse: A Guide to the Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, Grouse, Guineafowl, Buttonquails and Sandgrouse of the World. London: Christopher Helm.
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Trophic Strategy

New Zealand quail foraged on the ground in search of seeds (Johnsgard, 1988). Stomach contents of dead quail had green grass leaves as well as seed (Madge and McGowan, 2002).

Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Granivore )

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Associations

New Zealand quail had an impact on the plants they consumed.

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We do not have information on predation for this species at this time.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Male New Zealand quail uttered an advertisement call described as "twit-twit-twit-twee-twit," that was repeated in rapid succession (Madge and McGowan, 2002).

Communication Channels: acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

We do not have information on the lifespan/longevity of this species at this time.

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Reproduction

We do not have information on the mating system of New Zealand quail, however, given that a family of nine quail that were shot and killed consisted of an adult male, an adult female, and seven young, it is posible that they were monogamous.

New Zealand quail nests were shallow scrapes in the ground with grass lining. Ten to twelve eggs were laid per clutch, and incubation time was 21 days. The eggs were a buff color with dark brown blotches or a whitish-yellow color with smudged brown spots. With respect to the breeding season, young were seen as late as April on the South Island (Madge and McGowan, 2002).

Range eggs per season: 10 to 12.

Average time to hatching: 21 days.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

We do not have information on parental care for this species, however, given that a family of nine quail that were shot and killed consisted of an adult male, an adult female, and seven young, it is likely that there was both male and female parental care. Chicks were precocial.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; precocial ; pre-fertilization

  • Johnsgard, P. 1988. The Quails, Partridges, and Francolins of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Madge, S., P. McGowan. 2002. Pheasants, Partridges and Grouse: A Guide to the Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, Grouse, Guineafowl, Buttonquails and Sandgrouse of the World. London: Christopher Helm.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Coturnix novaezelandiae

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.

AACCGATGACTATTCTCAACTAACCACAAAGACATTGGCACTCTTTACTTAATTTTCGGCACATGAGCAGGCATAGCCGGTACAGCACTT---AGCCTGTTAATCCGCGCAGAACTAGGACAACCAGGTACCCTCCTAGGAGAC---GACCAAATTTATAATGTAATTGTCACAGCACATGCCTTCGTCATAATCTTCTTTATAGTTATACCAATCATGATCGGAGGTTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCACTTATA---ATCGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTTCCACGTATGAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTCCTCCCACCCTCCTTCCTCCTTCTACTAGCTTCCTCCACCGTTGAAGCTGGTGCCGGCACAGGATGAACCGTTTACCCACCCCTAGCCAGCAACCTTGCCCATGCTGGAGCATCAGTAGATCTA---GCCATCTTTTCCCTACACTTAGCAGGTGTATCATCAATCCTAGGGGCTATCAACTTTATCACCACCATTATCAATATAAAACCCCCTGCACTATCACAATATCAAACACCCTTATTTGTTTGATCAGTCCTCATCACTGCCATTCTACTTCTACTCTCCCTCCCAGTCCTAGCTGCC---GGCATTACCATGCTTCTCACTGACCGAAATCTC
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Coturnix novaezelandiae

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

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EX
Extinct

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

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

Contributor/s

Justification
This species formerly occurred on New Zealand's South Island, but is now Extinct, probably due to diseases spread by introduced game birds. A bird that died in 1875 is thought to represent the last individual of the species.

History
  • Extinct (EX)
  • Extinct (EX)
  • Extinct (EX)
  • Extinct (EX)
  • Extinct (EX)
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The extinction of New Zealand quail is thought to have been caused by the appearance of diseases from introduced game birds. They were also heavily hunted and their numbers declined in the 1850's. This species of Coturnix became extinct in 1875 (Alderton, 1992; Brooks, 2000).

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: extinct

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Threats

Major Threats
Extinction was initially thought to have been caused by large-scale burning, predation by dogs, cats and rats, and grazing by sheep (Marchant and Higgins 1993). More recently, diseases spread by introduced gamebirds have been hypothesised to account for its rapid extinction (Knox and Walters 1994).

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