Action: Water nesting mounds to increase incubation success in malleefowl
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A small controlled in Australia found that two malleefowl Leipoa ocellata nests were abandoned after they dried out, despite being watered, although unwatered nests were abandoned much earlier.
Malleefowl Leipoa ocellata and other megapodes build large nesting mounds, filled with vegetation. This vegetation rots and produces heat which then incubates the eggs. This process requires the vegetation to be damp, meaning that eggs may die in dry conditions. Artificially adding water to the mounds may help prevent this.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A small controlled trial in mallee scrub in South Australia, Australia, in October-December 1981 (a drought year) Booth & Seymour (1984) found that two malleefowl Leipoa ocellata nest mounds which were watered to promote microbial decomposition were abandoned around the 6th December, after birds constructed egg chambers but did not lay eggs. However, the internal temperature rose to approximately 35oc following the addition of 400 litres of water (equivalent to approximately 57 mm of rain on the mounds), compared to a maximum of approximately 25oC for two control (unwatered) mounds. However, watered mounds dried out in late November, the temperature fell and birds abandoned them. Control nests were abandoned around 12th November.