Time filter

Source Type

Auckland, New Zealand

Ismar S.M.H.,University of Auckland | Chong N.L.,University of Auckland | Igic B.,University of Auckland | Igic B.,Australian National University | And 5 more authors.
New Zealand Journal of Zoology

Subtle sexual dimorphism and its perception in apparently monomorphic bird species warrant assessment of how birds identify the sex of conspecifics, particularly of prospective mates. Visual sensitivity and its potential co-variation with cryptic sexual dichromatism are still uninvestigated in most avian taxa. Using molecular sexing, reflectance spectrometry and perceptual modelling based on the sequencing of short wavelength visual pigments, we assessed the sex-specificity of coloration and colour perception in the red-tailed tropicbird Phaethon rubricauda. We also measured morphological dimorphism at a previously unstudied breeding locality for this species. Our data are in line with both physical and avian-perceived monochromatism with a potential indication of achromatic sex differences in plumage reflectance. The moderate extent of size dimorphism is consistent with reports from other Pacific breeding populations, and morphological measurements from live specimens in this study are in line with reports on museum specimens from the same sample location. Potential differences between individuals of the same sex in size and coloration warrant the assessment of sexual dimorphism in larger sample sizes of this species. © 2011 The Royal Society of New Zealand. Source

Ismar S.M.H.,University of Auckland | Baird K.,Auckland Conservancy | Patel S.,University of Auckland | Millar C.D.,University of Auckland | And 2 more authors.
Marine Ornithology

Once thought to be extinct, the Tasman Booby Sula tasmani has recently been re-classified as a subspecies of the Masked Booby S. dactylatra on the basis of genetic data. This re-classification raises the issue of whether this novel clade has a distinct morphology. Morphological differences in size, as well as coloration of integuments, bill and iris have been found in other subspecies of the Masked Booby but have not yet been reported for live Kermadec Islands breeding individuals. Museum specimens from this breeding location have been separated from other Pacific breeding subspecies by their longer wings. We sampled a total of 21 individuals from North Meyer Islet, Kermadec Group, New Zealand, and applied molecular sexing to obtain sex-specific morphometric measurements. We matched dimorphism in vocalization with genetic sexing results and photographic documentation of human-assessed bill, foot and eye coloration. While culmen measurements were consistent with reports from museum specimens, wing chords from living specimens of Tasman Masked Boobies were 3% and 4% larger in males and females, respectively. Females had larger culmens and wings than males, consistent with the low extent of sexual dimorphism reported from museum skins. Adult Tasman Masked Boobies had yellow to buff-yellow feet, while fledglings, as in most sulids, had grey to greyish-yellow feet. Our findings confirm the distinctively long wing and particular iris coloration previously reported for the taxon and provide the first description of integument coloration of live specimens. This study highlights the importance of including in situ assessment in taxon descriptions. Source

Ismar S.M.H.,Leibniz Institute of Marine Science | Ismar S.M.H.,University of Auckland | Trnski T.,Auckland Museum | Beauchamp T.,TSO Ecology and Environment | And 5 more authors.
Bird Conservation International

Summary No published information is available on the foraging ecology and choice of feeding habitat of New Zealand's rarest breeding bird: the New Zealand Fairy Tern (NZFT) Sternula nereis davisae. To address this gap, we conducted an assessment of the largest remaining breeding population at Mangawhai Harbour, Northland, New Zealand, during the chick-rearing period of the 2010/2011 breeding season. We combined visual tracking of birds with prey surveys and stable isotope analyses, and we present the first quantitative assessment of NZFT foraging. We recorded 405 foraging dives that show NZFT foraging habitat includes the water edges, shallow channels, and pools on the tidal flats of mangrove-lined (Avicennia marina var. resinifera) parts of the estuary; tidal pools on mud- and sandflats in the mid-estuary and lower harbour; the shallow margins of the dredged main channel in the lower harbour; the oxbow lagoons on the sand spit; and coastal shallows. Our study identifies the mangrove-lined highly tidal and shallow mid-estuary and the lagoon on the sand spit as foraging hotspots for the Mangawhai breeding population of the NZFT. The prey survey employed a seine-net sampling method at identified NZFT foraging sites and yielded 4,367 prey-sized fish of 11 species, two of which had not previously been reported in Mangawhai Harbour, as well as numerous shrimps. The most abundant fish were gobies of the genus Favonigobius. Our stable isotope results highlight gobies as the most important prey for NZFT chick rearing, also indicating that flounder Rhombosolea sp. contribute to NZFT diet. We raise the possibility that shrimps may also constitute a substantial diet component for NZFT, potentially providing up to 21% of diet mass for adult birds. While our results provide a first basis to understanding the feeding ecology of NZFT during their breeding season in order to facilitate conservation planning, further research is required to address inter-annual variation and to identify key foraging grounds for this Critically Endangered bird at other breeding sites. © BirdLife International 2013. Source

Ismar S.M.H.,University of Auckland | Baird K.,Auckland Conservancy | Favell E.,University of Canterbury | Hauber M.E.,University of Auckland | Hauber M.E.,York College - The City University of New York

Natural re-colonisation events are rare so it can be important to monitor newly establishing populations to understand and characterise such events. As re-colonising populations are often freed from spatial and competitive constraints, documenting the sex-ratio of offspring may provide insights in sex-allocation theory. We studied a re-establishing population of Black-winged Petrels (Pterodroma nigripennis) on Raoul Island, in the Kermadec Group, New Zealand, where all predators have recently been removed. We measured, and took DNA samples from 20 chicks in four new colonies in 2007, when the colonies first re-established, 25 chicks from seven colonies in 2008, and 25 adults captured across both years, including seven that were caught nearby at sea, and two adults caught at a colony where no chicks were sampled. We found the developmental stage of chicks to have no differences between sexes, and recorded no sexual differences in the morphometrics of chicks or adults. We report a significantly biased sex-ratio towards male offspring in the first year of re-colonisation. In contrast, the sex-ratios of offspring in the second year of re-colonisation and of adults in both years were even. We suggest that biases in offspring sex-ratios towards the more philopatric sex may be adaptive when under release from spatial or competitive constraints in re-colonising birds. Continued monitoring of the populations of Black-winged Petrels re-establishing on Raoul Island, as well as comparable data from adjacent islets with long-established breeding colonies of Black-winged Petrels will be critical to identify the realised ecological role of variation in offspring sex-ratio and of sex-biased natal philopatry. © 2010 Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union. Source

Hamner R.M.,Oregon State University | Hamner R.M.,University of Auckland | Wade P.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Oremus M.,University of Auckland | And 5 more authors.
Endangered Species Research

The New Zealand endemic Maui's dolphin Cephalorhynchus hectori maui is characterized by several life history traits thought to be important predictors of extinction risk in marine mammals, including a slow rate of reproduction, small geographic range, small group size, and coastal distribution. We continued the genetic monitoring of the remnant population of Maui's dolphins using DNA profiles to identify 39 individuals from 73 skin biopsy samples collected during dedicated boat surveys in the austral summers of 2010 and 2011. Using a 2-sample, closed-population model with the genotype recapture records, we estimated the current abundance to be N = 55 individuals approximately age 1+ (95% confidence limits = 48, 69; coefficient of variation = 0.15). The endangered species potential biological removal that would permit the recovery of the Maui's dolphin was calculated to be 1 dolphin every 10 to 23 yr. Despite this, the Maui's dolphin is not necessarily doomed to extinction. It appears to be maintaining an equal sex ratio and connectivity within its remnant range and has the potential for rescue by interbreeding with Hector's dolphin C. h. hectori migrants. © The authors 2014. Source

Discover hidden collaborations