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The Laysan Teal Anas laysanensis is an endangered anatid of the Hawaiian Islands, currently restricted to an emergent atoll, Laysan Island. Laysan Island lacks terrestrial mammalian predators, which permits the examination of mortality rates and causes without the anthropogenic effects of introduced predators. Mass and morophometrics were measured during the colour-marking of 297 Laysan Teal between 1998 and 2001. Intensive mark-resighting and recovery methods were used to estimate adult and juvenile mortality. One hundred and nineteen carcasses were collected on Laysan between 1998 and 2003, and systematic gross and microscopic examinations were undertaken on 63 of these. Causes of mortality were categorised as trauma, emaciation, miscellaneous or undetermined. Annual adult mortality rates were low, 0.05-0.10 (s.e. <0.01), but duckling mortality was much higher, varying from approximately 0.7-0.9 during 1998-2000 and 2003. Body condition of both sexes deteriorates during the breeding season, and most adult mortality (88%) occurred during or post-breeding (May-October). Cause of mortality was determined via necropsy in 22 ducks. Of three adults, one died from bacterial infections, one was egg bound, and one died from botulism concomitant with nematode infestation. Fourteen ducklings died from acute trauma, four from emaciation sometimes associated with nematode infection, and one from bacterial pneumonia Trauma is a significant factor in Laysan duckling mortalities, and elucidating the cause of and preventing such trauma may allow for management measures to enhance duckling survivability. High duckling mortality rates and emaciation also indicate that habitat on Laysan Island may have limited capacity to support broods.
Additional Publication Details
Mortality in the endangered Laysan teal, Anas laysanensis: conservation implications