It is resident around lakes and marshes in the high Andes, usually well above 3,000 m (9,800 ft). It is largely terrestrial and avoids swimming except in emergencies.
This heavily built bird has a tiny pink bill and white plumage except for black in the wings and tail. The female is similar to the male except that it is smaller.
The Andean goose is a grazing species, eating grasses. It nests on the ground in a bare scrape near water, laying 6–10 eggs. It is territorial in the breeding season, but otherwise forms small flocks.
Physiology and hemoglobin adaptation
Andean geese have developed a mutation in their hemoglobin that has led to a vast increase in hemoglobin-oxygen affinity. More specifically, Hiebl et al. found that the Andean goose has developed mutations that lead to five amino-acid substitutions in the alpha-chain and five substitutions in the beta-chain of their hemoglobin. A particular substitution in the Andean goose beta-chain has led to the elimination of a Van der Waals interaction between the alpha-chain and the beta-chain. This has destabilized the T-state (the deoxygenated state of hemoglobin), which has led to a higher affinity for being in the R-state (oxygenated state of hemoglobin). Overall, this mutation increases the hemoglobin-oxygen affinity of the Andean goose.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Chloephaga melanoptera". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.old-form url
- Bulgarella, M.; Kopuchian, C.; Giacomo, A.S.D.; Matus, R.; Blank, O.; Wilson, R.E.; McCracken, K.G. (2014). "Molecular phylogeny of the South American sheldgeese with implications for conservation of Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and continental populations of the Ruddy-headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps and Upland Goose C. picta". Bird Conservation International. 24 (1): 59–71. doi:10.1017/S0959270913000178.
- Jaramillo, Alvaro (July 2014). "Proposal 637: Treat Chloephaga melanoptera and Neochen jubata as congeners". South American Classification Committee, American Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
- Davenport, L.; Endo, W.; Kriese, K. (2020). Schulenberg, T.S. (ed.). "Orinoco Goose (Oressochen jubatus), version 1.0". Birds of the World. Ithaca, NY, USA: Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 12 June 2021.
- Hiebl, I; Braunitzer, G & Schneeganss, D (1987). "The primary structures of the major and minor hemoglobin-components of adult Andean goose (Chloephaga melanoptera, Anatidae): the mutation Leu----Ser in position 55 of the beta-chains". Biological Chemistry Hoppe-Seyler. 368 (12): 1559–1569. doi:10.1515/bchm3.1987.368.2.1559. PMID 3442599.
- Storz, Jay; Hideaki Moriyama (June 2008). "Mechanisms of Hemoglobin Adaptation to High Altitude Hypoxia". High Altitude Medicine and Biology. 9 (2): 148–157. doi:10.1089/ham.2007.1079. PMC 3140315. PMID 18578646.
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