The time budget and feeding ecology of the pukeko (Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus, Temminck 1820) a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Zoology at Massey University
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The annual and seasonal time budget and feeding ecology of pukeko Porphyrio porphyrio melanotus are described both as a composite day and diurnally. The study shows pukeko do not spend equal time in all activities in all habitats over the day, for each season or over the year. They spend by far the bulk of their time feeding (75-90%), and less time to attentiveness, bodily maintenance, and social encounters. However time allocated to all activities varies with habitat. By far most time is spent in dryland (pasture), and less in turn in rush margins, swamp and water. Bimodal activity patterns (dawn and dusk) are described for each season, whereas feeding effort is unimodal peaking in the mid to late afternoon. Direct sampling of an adjacent population indicates pukeko gradually increase the length of tiller taken and quantity of ingesta consumed over the day. Pukeko do not peck at the same rate or feed at the same intensity in all habitats, at all times of the day, for each season or over the year - feeding fastest and most intensely in rush margin and mud areas, and slower and less intensely in dryland, swamp and water. However considering use of habitats over the year pukeko feed most intensively and extensively in dryland, but less in rush margin, mud, swamp and water. Feeding in the latter three habitats is linked notably with seasonal availability (and/or quality) of forage. Evidence indicates pukeko are able to gauge seasonally the availability (and/or quality) of forage, and allocate their feeding effort appropriately.