|Gough moorhen (Gallinula comeri) on Tristan da Cunha|
The Gough moorhen (Gallinula comeri) is a medium-sized, almost flightless bird that is similar to the common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), but is smaller, stockier, and has shorter wings. The bird has a distinctive yellow-tipped red bill and red frontal shield. Its first account was written by the polar explorer George Comer in 1888. This bird is found only on two remote islands in the South Atlantic.
The Gough moorhen was originally endemic to Gough Island, but was introduced to Tristan da Cunha in 1956. On the basis of DNA sequencing of both recently collected and historical material from both species, Groenenberg et al (2008) concluded that the genetic distances between G. nesiotis and G. comeri are of at least the same size as those found between subspecies of G. chloropus in the literature. They propose that the extinct moorhen of Tristan (G. nesiotis) and the moorhens that live on Gough and Tristan today (G. comeri) be regarded as subspecies.
On Gough Island, it appears that the bird's future is secure with the island being a nature reserve and a World Heritage Site. In the mid 1990s, it was estimated that 2500 breeding pairs existed on Gough Island. Gough Island is considered the least disturbed major cool-temperate island ecosystem in the South Atlantic Ocean and hosts one of the most important sea-bird colonies in the world, containing 54 bird species, 22 breeding species, and four threatened species. However, on Tristan da Cunha, it is not classified as a native species and therefore is not protected.
- Roots, Clive (2006). Flightless birds. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 60. ISBN 0-313-33545-1. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
- Groenenberg, D.S.J., Beintema, A,J., Dekker, R.W.R.J. & E. Gittenberger, 2008. Ancient DNA Elucidates the Controversy about the Flightless Island Hens (Gallinula sp.) of Tristan da Cunha. PLoS ONE 3(3):1835. full text
- BirdLife Species Factsheet.
- ARKive - images and movies of the Gough Island moorhen (Gallinula comeri)
- "Description of a new gallinule, from Gough Island" - J.A. Allen, Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, Vol.4, Art.6, 1892. p. 57-58
- Official Gough Island website
- website A.J.Beintema
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