Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica

Richard L. West and Gene K. Hess
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated January 1, 2002

Priorities for Future Research

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Priorities for Future Research

Taken, in part, from Helm 1994 .

(1) Population survey techniques that have proven successful for other Rallidae should be tested for Purple Gallinules. Because Purple Gallinules are so secretive and vociferous, auditory survey techniques should be evaluated. These techniques have been used for surveying rails (Griese 1977), Common Moorhens (Brackney 1979), and other waterbirds (Gibbs and Melvin 1993). Nest counts, roadside counts, and airboat surveys using transect lines should be evaluated. Should a survey technique prove effective, standardized surveys conducted on consistent sites or routes on an annual basis could yield information on population status and trends, and habitat preferences.

(2) Studies to estimate productivity and annual recruitment necessary to maintain population levels are needed. Studies should be conducted on intensive study sites for at least 5 consecutive years.

(3) An operational banding program on intensive study sites could yield information relative to nesting-area fidelity and, possibly, migration patterns and survival. Such a program may be dependent on recapturing marked birds because of low probability of band recoveries away from banding sites.

(4) Information on available habitat, habitat use and preferences, and habitat-management practices is essential for basic management planning. Man-agement practices should be developed to enhance habitat conditions for breeding populations. Methods have been applied in the Tropics (Hunter 1987a), and habitat manipulations such as those suggested by Eddleman et al. (Eddleman et al. 1988a) should be tested in wet-lands and rice fields in the southern United States.

(5) Evaluation of wetland weed control for fishing and other uses should be evaluated and weighed with respect to effects on Purple Gallinule productivity—and compromise methods employed if needed. In Florida, for example, state-sponsored spraying as part of a control program for nuisance aquatic plants on Lake Toho led to the collapse and loss of Purple Gallinule nests along with nest loss of other marsh-nesting species. The losses observed may have been only a small portion of the actual nest destruction caused by state-sponsored herbicide programs. Once the nesting vegetation is sprayed, the plant and nest usually fall into the water within 14 d (Rodgers and Schwikert 1999).

(6) Purple Gallinules should be distinguished from Common Moorhens (a) when sampling hunters via the National Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program and in state harvestmonitoring and (b) in the promulgation of state hunting regulations.

(7) Research should be conducted on the resident population of south and central Florida, especially in Polk County, to see if either renesting or multiple nesting is an essential component of Purple Gallinule productivity there. These birds are semitamed and individually identifiable by small characteristics known to their human neighbors. They are further identified because they recognize and react to certain humans who feed them. The human residents readily and frequently recognize feeding of young by juveniles.

(8) New rice cultivation techniques should be monitored for adverse effects. New fast-maturing rice strains may ripen before young gallinules have fledged. Switch to dry cultivation may remove a heavily-used breeding habitat. Modern harvesting equipment is not clogged by the presence of used nests.

(9) The predominate wintering grounds for the North American population needs to be determined. Wetlands or other habitats used in winter need to be protected and improved, possibly in conjunction with management for West Indian Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna arborea) and White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis).

Recommended Citation

West, R. L. and G. K. Hess (2020). Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.purgal2.01