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Dendrocygna arborea

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES ANSERIFORMES ANATIDAE

Scientific Name: Dendrocygna arborea
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English West Indian Whistling-duck, West Indian Whistling Duck, West Indian Tree-duck, Black-billed Wood-duck, Cuban Tree-duck, West Indian Whistling-Duck
Spanish Pato Silbón de Cuba, Suirirí Yaguaza

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2ab(i,ii,iii,iv) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Mugica, L., Prosper, J. & Sorenson, L.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Isherwood, I., Mahood, S., Taylor, J., Temple, H., Wege, D.
Justification:
This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a small and severely fragmented range within which it is hunted, and the area, extent and quality of remaining habitat is undergoing a continuing decline, with populations at some sites disappearing altogether. However, overall the population appears to be increasing, and a category change may be warranted in the near future.

History:
2012 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Dendrocygna arborea historically ranged throughout the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK), Cuba, Cayman Islands (to UK), Jamaica, Haiti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico (to USA), Virgin Islands (to UK), Virgin Islands (to USA), St Kitts and Nevis (only an occasional visitor in the past and future records unlikely owing to habitat deterioration), Antigua and Barbuda, and Guadeloupe (to France). Breeding populations are known to exist in the Bahamas (at least 1,500 birds), Turks and Caicos, Cuba (at least 14,000, based on a survey of hunters [Acosta-Cruz and Mugica-Valdés in litt. 2006] which is said to have underestimated numbers [L. Mugica in litt. 2011], although it has also been robustly argued that the results are too optimistic [L. Sorenson in litt. 2012]), Cayman (800-1,200 and thought to be stable), Jamaica (500 and stable), Dominican Republic (six populations [Ottenwalder 1997]), Puerto Rico (100 and perhaps stable), and Antigua (500) and Barbuda (50) (Sorenson et al. 2004).

Countries:
Native:
Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; Cayman Islands; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Haiti; Jamaica; Puerto Rico; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Turks and Caicos Islands; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.
Vagrant:
Anguilla; Barbados; Bermuda; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba; Curaçao; Dominica; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Martinique; Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: A population estimate of 10,000-19,999 individuals is derived from L. G. Sorenson (in litt. 2007) and L. Mugica (in litt. 2007). This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals. However, this should be revised upwards if recent estimates from Cuba (L. Mugica in litt. 2011) are confirmed.
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This secretive, non-migratory duck is crepuscular or nocturnal and generally considered site faithful, but it will wander in search of water and good habitat during periodic droughts (Staus 1998a, Prosper in litt 2005, Staus 2005, L. G. Sorenson in litt 2007). During the day, singles, pairs or flocks (up to 100) roost and possibly feed in mangroves, reeds and swampy areas (Sorenson et al. 2004, L. G. Sorenson in litt 2007). At dusk, birds fly to fresh, brackish, and salt ponds, lagoons, ephemeral wetlands, tidal flats and agricultural fields (rice and corn) to feed (usually in small flocks), returning to roost-sites just before dawn (Staus 1998a). Scrub and coppice are important nesting habitats; birds often nest on offshore cays (Staus 1998a, Prosper in litt 2005, L. G. Sorenson in litt 2007). The nest is usually in a cluster of palm fronds, a clump of bromeliads, on a branch, in a tree-cavity, or in a leaf-lined scrape on the ground (Staus 1998a,b; L. G. Sorenson in litt 2007). Breeding has been recorded in virtually all months, but peaks in the summer (Staus 1998b, Prosper in litt 2005, Staus 2005).

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It has suffered from excessive and under-regulated hunting for subsistence (including eggs) and sport (Staus 1997, Staus 2005, L. G. Sorenson in litt 2007, 2012). Wetlands are a very limited habitat in the Caribbean, with continuing conversion primarily for development (Staus 1997, Prosper in litt 2005, L. G. Sorenson in litt 2007, 2012). More than 50% of remaining wetlands are seriously degraded by the cutting of mangroves and swamp-forest, pollution (chemical runoff from nearby agriculture, sewage and garbage), water mismanagement, and natural catastrophes such as droughts and hurricanes (Staus 1997, Staus 2005). Climate models predict a significant summer drying trend in the Caribbean (Neelin et al. 2006), and projected sea-level rise may threaten mangroves (L. Sorenson in litt. 2012), both suggesting that climate change could be a significant future threat to this species. Predation by introduced species is inadequately documented, but mongoose, racoons, rats, and feral cats and dogs are known to kill adults and young and eat eggs (Staus 1997, Staus 1998a).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. CMS Appendix II. It is legally protected throughout much of its range, but law enforcement is inadequate (Staus 1997). Since 1997, the West Indian Whistling-duck Working Group of the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds has conducted a region-wide public education and awareness programme that provides local teachers and educators with training and educational materials and works to raise awareness and appreciation of the value of local wetlands and wetland biodiversity (Sorenson et al. 2004). The project has also sponsored surveys and worked with decision-makers, community leaders and hunters to reduce poaching and encourage protection of local wetlands, especially via development of "Watchable Wildlife Ponds" - wetlands equipped with interpretive signs and viewing areas where local people, school groups, and tourists can easily observe whistling-ducks and other wildlife (Sorenson et al. 2004). There are several protected areas in the region but, in general, suitable habitats, especially wetlands, are under-represented and many degraded wetlands should be restored (L. G. Sorenson in litt 2007). There are plans to establish a re-introduced population on the Virgin Islands (to UK) (L. G. Sorenson in litt 2007).  Some captive breeding populations exist.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct extensive surveys to assess numbers and distribution in each country (Sorenson et al. 2004). Assist local authorities in establishing a long-term monitoring programme (Sorenson et al. 2004). Conserve and restore key sites (Sorenson et al. 2004). Establish legal protection in countries where that is not yet in place and enforce protection in others. Continue public education and awareness programmes (Sorenson et al. 2004) and develop captive breeding efforts.


Citation: BirdLife International 2013. Dendrocygna arborea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 October 2014.
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