New Paper - Sora Habitat Use in Autumn Migration

New paper out today in Royal Society Open Science.

Fournier AMV, Mengel DC, Krementz DG. Sora (Porzana carolina) autumn migration habitat use. Royal Society Open Science. 5: 171664. 10.1098/rsos.171664 pdf

TL;DR - Sora, a habitat generalist, uses annual moist soil plants in shallowly flooded wetlands during autumn migration.

Unlike many parts of rail migration ecology, the habitat use of Sora during autumn migration has been studied before, mostly on single sites, which left some questions as to how broadly applicable those results were.

So from 2012-2016 we worked across 10 public wetland complexes in Missouri, USA to study their autumn habitat use. We looked at the kinds of plants in the wetlands they used, and water depth, and compared it to what was available for them to use.

Sora are a migratory rail that crosses much of North America each year, a game species across much of their range, they are not well understood and their population status is unknown. Before we can answer questions about how management impacts them during autumn migration, we first need to know what kinds of wetlands they use.

We do this by comparing the available habitat, to the places that we found individual Sora during nocturnal surveys (Fournier and Krementz 2017).

We found two habitat chractertistics to be important. Annual moist soil vegetation (so plants adapted to live in a wetland environment, that only live for one year) was heavily used, as were areas which were shallowy flooded.

Since Sora are migrating earlier then waterfowl during autumn migration (Fournier et al. 2017), this raises some questions about if current wetland management is meeting the needs of migratory rails. But that is a question for a future paper.


Fournier, AMV, Krementz, DG. Nocturnal distance sampling all-terrain vehicle surveys for non-breeding rails The Wildlife Society Bulletin 41:151-156 doi:10.1002/wsb.745

Fournier, AMV, Mengel, DC, Gbur, EE, Krementz, DG. The timing of autumn Sora (Porzana carolina) migration in Missouri Wilson Journal of Ornithology 129:675-770 DOI: 10.1676/16-108.1

Written on May 16, 2018