Bone samples from 2 surviving populations of New Zealand’s endemic and endangered brown teal (Anas chlorotis) had a much smaller distribution of stable isotopic values (δ13C, δ15N) than those from Holocene-age fossil bones of the same species. Comparison with δ13C and δ15N values from 2 other taxa of known ecologies indicated that some brown teal were forest floor omnivores. The results indicate that the riparian and estuarine wetlands occupied by present natural populations represent only an extreme, truncated part of the species’ potential habitat. To aid present conservation efforts we suggest that brown teal be released into forested areas and islands managed as mammal-free enclaves to test whether modern birds can survive in habitats once occupied by now-extirpated populations. Palaeoecological studies, including stable isotope analyses, can be used to identify conservation options not obvious from research on declining remnant populations in anthropogenic environments.
Holdaway, R.N., Williams, M., Hawke, D.J.
Holdaway, R.N., Williams, M. & Hawke, D.J. (2013). A comparison of pre-human and present isotopic niches of brown teal (Ana chlorotis): implications for conservation. Notornis, 60(3), 233-244.
Link to article http://notornis.osnz.org.nz/system/files/Holdaway%20et%20al.%202013.pdf