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Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris
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This species appears to have suffered a rapid population decline, evidenced in its core wintering range, as a result of widespread and extensive habitat destruction. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable. However, data are scarce and some birds may have relocated to alternative wintering sites. Apparent increases in Iraq and the western Mediterranean population probably reflect improved observer coverage rather than genuine changes. This population has suffered a long-term decline and widespread loss of habitat.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

39-42 cm. Small, grey-brown dabbling duck. Brownish body flecked with creamy-brown. Dark eye-patch and broad eye-stripe from eye to nape. No speculum. Elegant shape, slightly crested appearance and long neck and wings. Female slightly smaller. Characteristic low, slow flight. Similar spp. Pintail Anas acuta female is larger, lacks eye-patch and has scalloped flanks. Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina female is larger, has more extensive eye-patch and strong contrast between flight feathers and forewing. Voice Squeaking jeep uttered by displaying males. Otherwise relatively silent.

Distribution and population
Marmaronetta angustirostris has a fragmented distribution in the western Mediterranean (Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, wintering in north and sub-Saharan west Africa), the eastern Mediterranean (Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Syria, wintering south to Egypt) and western and southern Asia (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China, wintering in Iran, Pakistan and north-west India) (Green 1996). Surveys in the winter of early 2010 recorded c.44,000 individuals in southern Iraq (Salim 2010), more than the previously estimated world population of 14,000-26,000 (in 2002). This may not represent a genuine population increase, but is perhaps more likely a product of the restoration of the marshes of southern Iraq since 2002, which has probably now resulted in the concentration in this area of most of the M. angustirostris population wintering in south-western Asia, combined with improved observer coverage. Prior to 1991, the estimated population was 34,000-40,000 birds. Numbers wintering in Iran have fallen from 25,000-30,000 (1985-1992) to c.5,000 in 1993 and c.3,700 in 1995 (Delany et al. 1999). Estimates of a wintering population of 3,000 birds in 1997 (Green and El Hamzaoui 1998) and a count of 4,250 in Tunisia in 1999 (J. F. Bos and L. M. Gilissen in litt. 1999), suggest the western Mediterranean population is larger than previously thought.

Population justification
The global population is estimated at c.50,000-55,000 individuals, based on estimates of 3,000-5,000 in the west Mediterranean and West Africa (T. Dodman in litt. 2002); 1,000 in the east Mediterranean; 5,000 in south Asia, and at least 44,000 individuals in south-western Asia.

Trend justification
Prior to the discovery of the large population in Iraq, the overall population trend was thought to be decreasing, although some populations are fluctuating and others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is dispersive and partially migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It shows variable, nomadic movements and is capable of dispersal in search of suitable habitat at any time of year as changing conditions require (Scott and Rose 1996)  (Kear 2005, del Hoyo et al. 1992). There is a general tendency for a more southerly distribution during the non-breeding season and a more northerly distribution during the breeding season. It is highly gregarious post-breeding and during the non-breeding season when it occurs in large monospecific flocks (Kear 2005) of up to 2000 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Green et al. 2002). During the breeding season it is more dispersive, although paired birds often mix with conspecifics (Kear 2005). Nests are sometimes built in close proximity to one another, although they become increasingly spaced out as population density declines (Kear 2005, Green 2007). Nesting has been recorded from mid April to late June, and broods from mid-April to mid-September (Kear 2005). The species exhibits drastic population fluctuations, partly in response to annual variations in rainfall. Habitat Breeding It is adapted to temporary, unpredictable, Mediterranean-type wetlands (Green 2000, 2007) and breeds in fairly dry, steppe-like areas on shallow freshwater, brackish or alkaline ponds with well vegetated shorelines (Green 1993), and rich emergent and submergent vegetation (Kear 2005). It also breeds on delta marshes where receding waters leave behind large areas of shallow water with abundant sedges and bulrushes (Johnsgard 1978). In addition it may use slow rivers and saline coastal lagoons, and man-made wetlands including fish-rearing ponds and small reservoirs (Green 1993). Although it favours brackish wetlands, it tends to avoid waters of high salinity. Microhabitat requirements are strongly influenced by diet. Non-breeding It uses similar habitat during the non-breeding season. Diet Diet varies considerably between seasons and sites and additionally with age. Diptera are an important component of the diet , especially before and during the breeding season. Small seeds become increasingly important after the breeding season with faeces of post-breeding birds in Turkey composed of 95% dry weight Scirpus seeds (Green and Sánchez 2003, Fuentes et al. 2004, Green and Selva 2000). Newly hatched chicks are highly dependent on emerging chironomids (Green 2000). Breeding site Nests are usually constructed on the ground at the water's edge, beneath a covering of vegetation (Kear 2005, Green 1993). They may also occur above water in Typha stands (Kear 2005) and are reported to have been found in the roofs of reed huts (Hawkes 1970, Kear 2005). Mean clutch size was recorded in Spain to be 11.8 (Green 1998).

Over 50% of suitable habitat may have been destroyed during the 20th century. Wetland drainage for agriculture occurs across its range, most significantly in Iraq where the species remains threatened by fluctuating water levels and local water shortages. Hydrological work has severely affected breeding sites in Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco and Spain. In Iraq, the species is also threatened by illegal hunting and persecution, exacerbated by it being the principal wildfowl target for hunters during the summer months (Salim 2010). Reed-cutting, reed-burning and grazing commonly reduce the amount of habitat for nesting. Pollution from agricultural, industrial and domestic sources is a threat at many sites. When breeding, it is vulnerable to shooting and egg collection. Further mortality results from birds caught in fishing nets and lead poisoning (Svanberg et al. 2006, Mateo et al. 2001). A lack of habitat following hot, dry summer months probably results in high juvenile and adult mortality post-breeding (Green 2000, 2007). Lack of water availability for the El Hondo reservoirs in Alicante have led to a major decline in Spain since 1998 (Ballesteros et al. 2008).

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix I and II. It is legally protected in Bulgaria, Israel, Morocco, Spain, Russia, Tunisia and Turkey. Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) project surveys were conducted in Iraq by Nature Iraq during 2005-2010, finding c.44,000 individuals in 2010 and resulting in the proposal of several KBAs which hold wintering and breeding populations to be designated as protected areas (Salim 2010). Awareness-raising efforts were carried out in Iraq including the production of posters and hosting of conferences and meetings with hunters and hunting societies by Nature Iraq (Salim 2010). Conservation programmes have been carried out in Spain. Survey and research projects have been carried out in Morocco and Turkey. An updated European action plan was published in 2008 (Iñigo et al. 2008).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct regular surveys and monitoring. Research its ecology. Protect habitat at all sites regularly holding the species. Prevent mortality from hunting and other causes. Increase public awareness.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Ballesteros, G., M., Cabrera, J. L. Echevarría, J. A. Lorenzo, C. Raya, J. A. Torres Esquivias and C. Viedma. 2008. Tarro canelo, cerceta pardilla, porrón pardo, malvasía cabeciblanca y focha moruna en España. Población en 2007 y método de censo. SEO/BirdLife, Madrid.

Balmer, D.; Murdoch, D. 2010. Iraq [bird records]. Sandgrouse 32(2): 177-178.

Bos, J. F. F. P.; Essetti, I.; Gilissen, N. L. M. 2000. Record counts of Marbled Teal in Tunisia, October 1999: consequences for population estimates and distribution. Threatened Waterfowl Specialist Group News 12: 49-53.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Reyes, C.; Hubert, E.; Pihl, S.; Rees, E.; Haanstra, L.; van Strien, A. 1999. Results from the International Waterbird Census in the Western Palearctic and Southwest Asia 1995 and 1996. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Fuentes, C., Sánchez, M. I., Selva, N. y Green, A.J. 2004. The diet of the Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris in southern Alicante, eastern Spain. Revue d'Ecologie (La Terre et la Vie) 59: 475-490.

Green, A. J. 1993. The status and conservation of the Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris. International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau, Slimbridge, U.K.

Green, A. J. 1996. International action plan for the Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris). In: Heredia, B.; Rose, L.; Painter, M. (ed.), Globally threatened birds in Europe: action plans, pp. 99-117. Council of Europe, and BirdLife International, Strasbourg.

Green, A. J. 1998. Habitat selection by the Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca and other ducks in the Göksu Delta, Turkey in late summer. Revue d'Ecologie (La Terre et la Vie) 53: 225-243.

Green, A. J. 2000. The habitat requirements of the Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris), Ménétr., a review. In: Comín, F. A.; Herrera, J. A.; Ramírez, J. (ed.), Limnology and aquatic birds: monitoring, modelling and management, pp. 147-163. Universidad Autónoma del Yucatán, Mérida.

Green, A. J. 2007. Cerceta pardilla - Marmaronetta angustirostris. In: Carrascal, L. M.; Salvador, A. (ed.), Enciclopedia Virtual de los Vertebrados Españoles, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid.

Green, A. J.; El Hamzaoui, M. 1998. The status and biology of threatened waterfowl in Morocco. TWSG News 11: 25-27.

Green, A. J.; El Hamzaoui, M.; El Agbani, M. A.; Franchimont, J. 2002. The conservation status of Moroccan wetlands with particular reference to waterbirds and to changes since 1978. Biological Conservation 104: 71-82.

Green, A. J.; Sánchez, M. I. 2003. Spatial and temporal variation in the diet of Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris in the western Mediterranean. Bird Study 50: 153-160.

Green, A.J.; Selva, N. 2000. The diet of post-breeding Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris and Mallard Anas platyrhynchos in the Goksu Delta, Turkey. Revue d'Ecologie (La Terre et la Vie) 55(2): 161-169.

Hawkes, B. 1970. The marbled teal. Wildfowl 21: 87.

Iñigo A., Barov B., Orhun C. & Gallo-Orsi U. 2008. Species action plan for the Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris in the European Union. BirdLife International for the European Commission.

Johnsgard, P. A. 1978. Ducks, geese and swans of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London.

Kear, J. 2005. Ducks, geese and swans volume 2: species accounts (Cairina to Mergus). Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Madge, S.; Burn, H. 1988. Wildfowl. Christopher Helm, London.

Mateo, R.; Belliure, J.; Dolz, J. C.; Aguilar-Serrano, J. M.; Guitart, R. . 1998. High prevalences of lead poisoning in wintering waterfowl in Spain. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 35: 342-347.

Perennou, C. P.; Mundkur, T.; Scott, D. A. 1994. The Asian Waterfowl Census 1987-1991: distribution and status of Asian waterfowl. IWRB and AWB, Slimbridge and Kuala Lumpur.

Salim, M. A. 2010. Current Status of Marbled Teal/Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris in Iraq, Conservation Approach. Internal report. Nature Iraq.

Scott, D. A.; Rose, P. M. 1996. Atlas of Anatidae populations in Africa and western Eurasia. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Svanberg, F., Mateo, R., Hillstrom, L., Green, A. J., Taggart, M. A., Raab, A., Meharg, A. A. 2006. Lead isotopes and Pb shot ingestion in the globally threatened Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) and White-headed Duck(Oxyura leucocephala). . Sci.Total Environ 370: 416–424.

Wetlands International. 2002. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

International Action Plan

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Capper, D., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M., Malpas, L., Peet, N., Pilgrim, J., Temple, H.

Bos, J., Gilissen, L., Green, A., Hughes, B., Perlman, Y.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Marmaronetta angustirostris. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Marbled duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, Swans)
Species name author (Ménétriés, 1832)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,370,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment