Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arkansas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Fournier, A. M.V., D. C. Mengel, and D. G. Krementz. 2016. Sora (Porzana carolina) autumn migration habitat use. Royal Society Open Science 5:171664.


Palustrine wetland management across the USA is often conducted under a moist soil management framework aimed at providing energetic resources for non-breeding waterfowl. Moist soil management techniques typically include seasonal water-level manipulations and mechanical soil disturbance to create conditions conducive to germination and growth of early successional, seed-producing wetland plants. The assumption is that providing stopover and wintering habitat for non-breeding waterfowl will also accommodate life-history needs of a broader suite of migratory waterbirds including shorebirds, wading birds and marsh birds. Although studies of wetlands provide some evidence to support this assumption for shorebirds and wading birds, there is less information on how other marshbirds respond. Sora (Porzana carolina) are a species of migratory rail that depend on wetlands year round as they migrate across North America. It is a species for which the consequences of wetland management decisions directed towards non-breeding waterfowl are unknown. We conducted nocturnal surveys on 10 public properties in Missouri, USA during autumn migration during 2012–2016 to examine Sora habitat use in wetland impoundments managed to enhance the production of moist soil vegetation. We found a positive relationship with Sora presence and mean water depth and annual moist soil vegetation; Sora used, on average, deeper water than was available across surveyed impoundments and used locations with a higher percentage of annual moist soil vegetation thanwas available.We found a negative relationship with Sora use and upland vegetation, woody vegetation and open water. We found Sora using deeper water than have previously been reported for autumn migration, and that moist soil management techniques used on Missouri’s intensively managed public wetland areas may be compatible with Sora autumn migration stopover habitat requirements.