The social organisation of the dusky moorhen, Gallinula tenebrosa Gould (Aves: Rallidae)

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A population of dusky moorhens was studied between October 1974 and December 1976. Moorhens were present in the study area throughout the year, existing predominantly in free-ranging flocks in May and June and tending to form territorial groups of from two to seven birds from July to April. In a group there were from one to three males per female; all males copulated with all females. Groups formed in July were predominantly of experienced adults and did not cease territoriality until April; those formed later, in September, were predominantly of immatures and tended to cease territoriality in March. The former had larger territories with more reeds, less sexual behaviour although more frequent successful coition, and a higher productivity than the latter. Productivity did not increase with group size although those with more than four birds lost twice as many eggs as smaller groups. It is unlikely that members of a group are related. The most frequent group size was four and it is postulated that groups of this size produce the most young. The skewed ratio in groups may result from the scarcity of nest sites, which limits the number of females per group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-112
Number of pages10
JournalWildlife Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes


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