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Social structure, dispersion and breeding of the Auckland Island Teal

TitleSocial structure, dispersion and breeding of the Auckland Island Teal
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsWilliams, M
Type of Articlepaper
KeywordsAnas aucklandica, Auckland Island Teal, behaviour, breeding, ecology, population

On Ewing Island, Auckland Islands, during the austral summer of 1991-92, Auckland Island Teal Anas aucklandica aucklandica were dispersed principally as pairs occupying and vigorously defending small all-purpose territories. Most territories were around the margins of the island, either within a narrow fringe of grassland, or at the very edge of Olearia lyallii forest with access to boulder beaches or low wave platforms. Few territorial pairs lived entirely within the forest. A small number of juveniles and unpaired adults assembled as a flock at one protected coastal location where food was super-abundant, but other unpaired birds appeared to live furtively around the margins of occupied territories. Some non-territorial pairs persistently tried to occupy sections of shoreline in the face of defence by territorial pairs. Only territorial pairs were observed breeding. Females sited their nests on the ground well hidden from view above and laid eggs each of which weighed, on average, 14.8% of body mass. Mean clutch size in 45 nests was 3.4 eggs and hatching success of 86 eggs was 93%. Ducklings were first seen on 11 December and most broods had been reduced to a singleton within eight days of hatching. The probability of a duckling surviving from hatching to 30 days was 0.272. The estimated mean size of extant broods at fledging was 1.6. By estimation, only 14% of ducklings may survive to fledging, and up to two-thirds of all breeding pairs may fail to raise any young. Re-laying by unsuccessful pairs may extend the breeding season into April. Males contributed fully to care of the brood but were not always seen in close attendance. By comparison with other related Australasian teals, Auckland Island Teal have a more terrestrial lifestyle and show more enduring territoriality.

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