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Apteryx australis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES STRUTHIONIFORMES APTERYGIDAE

Scientific Name: Apteryx australis
Species Authority: Shaw, 1813
Common Name(s):
English Southern Brown Kiwi
Taxonomic Notes: Apteryx australis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into A. australis and A. mantelli following Baker et al. (1995).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2be+3be+4be ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Robertson, H. & Weeber, B.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Mahood, S., Martin, R, McClellan, R., Taylor, J.
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

Geographic Range [top]

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

Countries:
Native:
New Zealand
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

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

Habitat and Ecology [top]

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

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): 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).

Conservation Actions [top]

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).


Citation: BirdLife International 2013. Apteryx australis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 October 2014.
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