Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

Ross G. Vennesland and Robert W. Butler
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated April 28, 2011

Priorities for Future Research

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Priorities for Future Research

1) Better determination of subspecies and their boundaries, especially via genetic studies.

2)  Surveys of the Occidentalis group, especially given recent steep declines in its Florida and Texas populations, and especially in Mexico and Central America, where it remains little studied. Also the Herodias group in regions where there are conservation concerns: Florida, Texas, and the Pacific Northwest

3) Gaining a clearer understanding of factors regulating populations -- especially the role of food supply, nest site availability, disturbance, and winter mortality.

4) Connectivity among populations -- natal dispersal, fidelity to breeding and wintering sites, and migration; here color-banding and tagging with radio transmitters will help, as will outfitting individuals with satellite transmitters, which could provide valuable new data on wintering locations, and on migration timing and routes.

5)  Winter habitat remains poorly understood and deserves study, especially habitat use and foraging ecology.

6)  Impacts of climate change -- how will this adaptable species fare with rising temperatures and sea levels?  Changes in the timing and patterns of migration would be among the first things to look for.

Recommended Citation

Vennesland, R. G. and R. W. Butler (2020). Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.grbher3.01