New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2006) 30(3): 397- 403

The diet of brown teal (Anas chlorotis)

Short Communication
Suzanne J. Moore 1,4,*
Phil F. Battley 2,5
Ian M. Henderson 1
Colin J. Webb 3
  1. Ecology Group, Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University, Private Bag 222, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  2. Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.
  3. Landcare Research, P.O. Box 69, Lincoln, New Zealand
  4. Current address: P.O. Box 5, Tuakau 2342, New Zealand
  5. Current address: School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Private Bag 9209, Auckland, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

The brown teal or pateke (Anas chlorotis) is an endangered endemic duck that has declined greatly throughout its range in the last 20 years but about which there is little dietary information to inform the speciesÕ management. We studied the diet of brown teal from six populations (most data were from Great Barrier Island, with additional samples from Northland, Little Barrier Island, Kapiti Island, Mana Island and Karori Wildlife Sanctuary) using feeding observations, gut and faecal analyses. Brown teal had a diverse diet for a dabbling duck: 78 taxa were recorded, including terrestrial, freshwater and marine invertebrates, fungi, and terrestrial and freshwater vegetation. Based on gut content analysis, the most frequently occurring foods were Cyperaceae nuts, white clover leaves, cased caddisfly larvae, beetles, earthworms, gastropods and bivalves. Faecal analysis and visual observations showed marine molluscs to be abundant in the diet in intertidal areas. The use of pastures by much of the present-day population may make teal vulnerable to starvation during dry summers.