New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1983) 6: 133- 142

Seasonal Dispersion and Activity of the Pukeko Porphyrio p. melanotus (Rallidae) in Swamp and Pasture

Research Article
R. A. Fordham  
  1. Department of Botany and Zoology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Numerical and spatial components of dispersion, and the activity of pukeko (Porphyrio p. melanotus) in swamp and pasture in coastal Manawatu, New Zealand, are described. Pukeko are concentrated in few locations during the autumn population peak, but are widely scattered in spring when the population size is minimum. Flocks are consistently larger in pasture than swamp; those of up to ten birds are more frequent in swamp. And those of 25 or more birds more frequent in pasture. In pasture, pukeko distribution and density declines outwards from the edge nearest to water. The suite of activities is similar in swamp and pasture but feeding is more frequent in pasture, and the main kinds of feeding employed vary in frequency between the habitats. Activity is labile, but feeding is interrupted less frequently than non-feeding behaviour. Use of swamp and pasture is discussed briefly. Pukeko grazing effects may be significant in autumn, but mainly in pasture close to water and cover.