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Reproduction
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Most megapodes are described as monogamous, although some species probably exhibit polygynandry. Monogamous pairs appear to form social bonds that may continue outside of the breeding season. Males generally compete for and defend incubation sites or females. Some species congregate regularly to roost. Species that use clumped geothermal incubation sites may aggregate in large numbers (over 50,000) onto communal incubation sites.

Megapodius spp., Eulipoa wallacei, and perhaps Talegalla are thought to exhibit female-defense monogamy. Males appear to defend a single female. The process of mate selection and pair formation is not known. The pairs stay in close proximity, exhibit behavioral synchrony, and locate and maintain incubation sites together. Pairs avoid other pairs through loud vocalizations.

Mallee fowl are considered to exhibit resource-defense monogamy. Pair bonds are evident for part of the breeding season. Males alone compete aggressively for mound sites. During construction of the incubation mound a pair works together, but once egg laying begins the male and female appear to become independent of one another.

Brush-turkeys (Aepydius) are thought to exhibit resource-defense polygynandry. Males defend incubation sites. The sexes interact only when females visit incubation mounds to copulate and to lay eggs. Females may lay eggs for multiple males. Males alone compete for, maintain and defend incubation mounds. Males and females may copulate with multiple mates.

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynandrous (promiscuous)

The length of the breeding season is variable. The beginning of the construction of incubation sites appears to be related to local climactic conditions. In some species the beginning of incubation site construction coincides with the onset of the rainy season and in others it coincides with the onset of the dry season.

Females may lay from 3 to 35 eggs over the course of the breeding season. The egg-laying interval may be 2 to 13 days and may occur over periods ranging from 2 to 4 months. Megapode eggs are generally white or creamy in color. Eggs are large and variable in size depending on species (weights range from 75 to 230 g).

Incubation period appears to be dependent on the temperature in the mound or burrow. The average duration may range from 44 to 77 days. Megapode chicks are precocial. Chicks may hatch from 20 cm to 1 m below the surface of the mound. The time it takes for chicks to reach the surface is variable, but may range from 2 to 60 hours. Digging out of the mound is thought to entail chicks lying on their backs and scraping the material with their feet, then compressing the falling material with their backs. Chicks dig out from the mound without direct parental assistance. Upon emergence chicks have functional flight feathers, can walk and run, and commence foraging independently. Little is known about the foraging abilities of newly emergent chicks. No parental care of emergent chicks has been observed. Age of maturity is not well known, but may be achieved in 1 to 3 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

Megapode chicks are precocial. No parental care of chicks has been observed. However, adult males spend a prolonged period caring for eggs by defending and maintaining incubation sites, and monitoring incubation temperatures.

Parental Investment: precocial ; male parental care

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Behavior
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Brush turkeys have colorful head and neck skin, inflatable neck sacs, and head combs that are likely used in visual signaling. Coloration of these parts becomes more pronounced during the breeding season and during copulatory activities. The combs and neck sacs of males become enlarged during the breeding season.

Megapode vocalizations generally entail clucking, crowing or booming. Clucking, squawking or grunting may be used as short distance intraspecific contact calls. Crowing is generally a loud repetitive call that may be heard day or night. Crowing carries long distances and may function as territorial cries or as contact calls between mated pairs. Pairs may duet by crowing. Booming is deep and resonant. Booming may occur during male-male interactions or when a male is alone at his incubation site. The function of booming may be as a social signal between males or as an advertisement to females.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Other Communication Modes: duets

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Conservation Status
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Ten species of megapodes are included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. One species, nevafou megapode (Megapodius pritchardii), is listed as 'Critically Endangered'. Two species, Maleo megapode (Macrocephalon maleo) and Micronesian megapode (Megapodius laperouse), are listed as 'Endangered'. Seven species are listed as 'Vulnerable'. Major threats include habitat loss, egg collection and introduced species.

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Comprehensive Description
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Megapodiidae comprises six genera and 19 species. Taxa of Megapapodiidae are commonly referred to as scrub fowl (Macrocephalon, Megapodius, Eulipoa); brush-turkeys (Alectura, Aepypodius, Talegalla), or mallee fowl (Leipoa). Megapodes are chicken-like birds with notably large feet. Instead of using body heat to directly incubate eggs, megapodes passively incubate eggs. Megapodes are sometimes referred to as mound builders because of their habit of burying their eggs under mounds of decaying vegetation. Some megapodes place their eggs in shallow pits or burrows to be warmed geothermally or with sun-warmed sand. Upon hatching, the feathered chicks, dig out from under the mound (or emerge from the burrow) and are able to forage, walk, run and fly. Parental care of emergent chicks has not been observed.

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Howard, L. 2004. "Megapodiidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Megapodiidae.html
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Benefits
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Megapodes may damage home gardens as a result of mound construction activities. Plantations and farms suffer losses of shoots and seedlings due to megapode foraging activities.

Negative Impacts: crop pest; household pest

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Howard, L. 2004. "Megapodiidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Megapodiidae.html
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Benefits
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Humans collect the eggs and hunt the adults of many megapode species. These items are either consumed directly or sold in local markets.

Positive Impacts: food

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Howard, L. 2004. "Megapodiidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Megapodiidae.html
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Associations
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Megapodes may influence the local ecosystem by dispersing seeds or altering the habitat via construction of incubation mounds/burrows.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; creates habitat

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Howard, L. 2004. "Megapodiidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Megapodiidae.html
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Trophic Strategy
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Megapodes are omnivores, known to eat plant material, invertebrates and small vertebrates. The plant material they eat includes: seeds, fruits, berries, various sprouts/shoots, foliage and flowers. Invertebrates consumed include: termites, ants, cockroaches, grasshoppers, dragonflies, spiders, wasps, centipedes, snails, worms, small crabs. Small vertebrates include frogs and small lizards.

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates, Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods); herbivore (Folivore , Frugivore , Granivore ); omnivore

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Howard, L. 2004. "Megapodiidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Megapodiidae.html
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Distribution
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Megapodes are found in the Oriental and Australian regions east of Wallace's line. They range from Australia, New Guinea (and surrounding islands) through eastern Indonesia to the Philippines.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native ); australian (Native )

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Howard, L. 2004. "Megapodiidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Megapodiidae.html
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Habitat
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Megapodes inhabit a diversity of forest types (wet, dry, humid, swamp, gallery, monsoon) in lowland and highland regions. Some species occupy scrub forests, urban areas, and semi-arid habitats.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Other Habitat Features: urban

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Life Expectancy
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No specific information was found concerning longevity for this family.

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Morphology
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Megapodes are medium to large chicken-like birds with large feet. Adult body measurements are variable, from 50 cm to 70 cm in length and 275 g to 2950 g in weight. Megapodes are generally brown to black in color. Some species have a prominent head casque, wattles or bare heads and necks with brightly colored skin. Most species are sexually monomorphic in appearance, although one is dimorphic in size (females smaller), coloration (females less brightly colored) and wattles (female wattles absent). Upon hatching, chicks are covered with brown or buffy feathers (not down). Weight at hatching is variable, perhaps ranging from 80 g to 173 g.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; polymorphic

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful; ornamentation

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Howard, L. 2004. "Megapodiidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Megapodiidae.html
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Associations
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Known predators of megapodes include omnivorous and carnivorous mammals and include: red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), cats (Felidae), leopards (Panthera), civet-cats (Viverridae), feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), snakes (Serpentes) and raptors (Falconiformes).

Known Predators:

  • red foxes (Vulpes vulpes)
  • cats (Felidae)
  • leopards (Panthera)
  • civet-cats (Viverridae)
  • feral dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)
  • snakes (Serpentes)
  • raptors (Falconiformes)
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Howard, L. 2004. "Megapodiidae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Megapodiidae.html
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Megapode
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The megapodes, also known as incubator birds or mound-builders, are stocky, medium-large, chicken-like birds with small heads and large feet in the family Megapodiidae. Their name literally means "large foot" (Greek: mega = large, poda = foot), and is a reference to the heavy legs and feet typical of these terrestrial birds. All are browsers, and all but the malleefowl occupy wooded habitats. Most are brown or black in color. Megapodes are superprecocial, hatching from their eggs in the most mature condition of any bird. They hatch with open eyes, bodily coordination and strength, full wing feathers, and downy body feathers, and are able to run, pursue prey, and in some species, fly on the same day they hatch.[1]

Description

Megapodes are medium-sized to large terrestrial birds with large legs and feet with sharp claws. The largest members of the clade are the species of Alectura and Talegalla. The smallest are the Micronesian scrubfowl (Megapodius laperouse) and the Moluccan scrubfowl (Eulipoa wallacei). They have small heads, short beaks, and rounded and large wings. Their flying abilities vary within the clade. They present the hallux at the same level of the other toes just like the species of the clade Cracidae. The other Galliformes have their halluces raised above the level of the front toes.[2]

Distribution and habitat

Megapodes are found in the broader Australasian region, including islands in the western Pacific, Australia, New Guinea, and the islands of Indonesia east of the Wallace Line, but also the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal. The distribution of the family has contracted in the Pacific with the arrival of humans, and a number of island groups such as Fiji, Tonga, and New Caledonia have lost many or all of their species.[3]

Behaviour and ecology

Megapodes are mainly solitary birds that do not incubate their eggs with their body heat as other birds do, but bury them. Their eggs are unusual in having a large yolk, making up 50–70% of the egg weight.[4] The birds are best known for building massive nest mounds of decaying vegetation, which the male attends, adding or removing litter to regulate the internal heat while the eggs develop. However, some bury their eggs in other ways; there are burrow-nesters which use geothermal heat, and others which simply rely on the heat of the sun warming sand. Some species vary their incubation strategy depending on the local environment.[3] Although the Australian brushturkey was thought to exhibit temperature-dependent sex determination, this was later proven false;[5] temperature does, however, affect embryo mortality and resulting offspring sex ratios. The nonsocial nature of their incubation raises questions as to how the hatchlings come to recognise other members of their species, which is due to imprinting in other members of the order Galliformes. Research suggests an instinctive visual recognition of specific movement patterns is made by the individual species of megapode.[6]

Megapode chicks do not have an egg tooth; they use their powerful claws to break out of the egg, and then tunnel their way up to the surface of the mound, lying on their backs and scratching at the sand and vegetable matter. Similar to other superprecocial birds, they hatch fully feathered and active, already able to fly and live independently from their parents.[4]

Eggs previously assigned to Genyornis have been reassigned to giant megapode species. Some dietary and chronological data previously assigned to dromornithids may instead be assigned to the giant megapodes.[7]

Species

The more than 20 living species are placed in seven genera. Although the evolutionary relationships between the Megapodiidae are especially uncertain, the morphological groups are clear:[8]

 src=
Brushturkeys can often be found in parks or gardens.
 src=
Australian brushturkey on its mound
 src=
This cross-section of a megapode mound shows a layer of sand (up to 1 m thick) used for insulation, an egg chamber, and a layer of rotting compost. The egg chamber is kept at a constant 33°C by opening and closing air vents in the insulation layer, while heat comes from the compost below.

Phylogeny

Living Megapodiidae, based on the work by John Boyd:[9]

.mw-parser-output table.clade{border-spacing:0;margin:0;font-size:100%;line-height:100%;border-collapse:separate;width:auto}.mw-parser-output table.clade table.clade{width:100%}.mw-parser-output table.clade td{border:0;padding:0;vertical-align:middle;text-align:center}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-label{width:0.8em;border:0;padding:0 0.2em;vertical-align:bottom;text-align:center}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-slabel{border:0;padding:0 0.2em;vertical-align:top;text-align:center}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-bar{vertical-align:middle;text-align:left;padding:0 0.5em}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-leaf{border:0;padding:0;text-align:left;vertical-align:middle}.mw-parser-output table.clade td.clade-leafR{border:0;padding:0;text-align:right}   Alecturini Talegalla

T. jobiensis Meyer 1874 (collared brush-turkey)

     

T. cuvieri Lesson 1828 (red-billed brush-turkey)

   

T. fuscirostris Salvadori 1877 (black-billed brush-turkey)

         

Leipoa ocellata Gould 1840 (malleefowls)

     

Alectura lathami Gray 1831 (Australian brush-turkey)

Aepypodius

A. arfakianus (Salvadori 1877) (wattled brush-turkey)

   

A. bruijnii (Oustalet 1880) (Bruijn's/Waigeo brush-turkey)

          Megapodiini

Macrocephalon maleo Müller 1846 (maleos)

     

Eulipoa wallacei (Gray 1861) Ogilvie-Grant 1893 (Moluccan megapodes)

Megapodius    

M. cumingii Dillwyn 1853 (Philippine megapode)

   

M. tenimberensis Sclater 1883 (Tanimbar scrubfowl)

       

M. nicobariensis Blyth 1846 (Nicobar megapode)

     

M. laperouse Gaimard 1823 (La Perouse’s/Micronesian megapode)

       

M. layardi Tristram 1879 (New Hebrides/Vanuatu megapode)

   

M. pritchardii Gray 1864 (Tongan megapode)

       

M. bernsteinii Schlegel 1866 (Sula megapode)

     

M. geelvinkianus Meyer 1874 (Biak scrubfowl)

     

M. reinwardt Dumont 1823 (orange-footed scrubfowl)

     

M. eremita Hartlaub 1868 (Melanesian megapode)

     

M. decollatus Oustalet 1878 (New Guinea scrubfowl)

     

M. freycinet Gaimard 1823 (dusky megapode)

   

M. forsteni Gray 1847 (Forsten’s megapode)

                           

Taxonomy

See also

References

  1. ^ Starck, J.M., Ricklefs, R.E. (1998). Avian Growth and Development. Evolution within the altricial precocial spectrum. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-510608-3.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"""""'"'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  2. ^ del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. (1994). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-15-6.
  3. ^ a b Steadman D, (2006). Extinction and Biogeography in Tropical Pacific Birds, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-77142-7
  4. ^ a b Starck, J.M. & Sutter E. (2000). "Patterns of growth and heterochrony in moundbuilders (MEgapodiidae) and fowl (Phasianidae)". Journal of Avian Biology. Copenhagen. 31: 527–47. doi:10.1034/j.1600-048x.2000.310413.x.
  5. ^ Göth, Ann; Booth, David T (22 March 2005). "Temperature-dependent sex ratio in a bird". Biology Letters. 1 (1): 31–33. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2004.0247. PMC 1629050. PMID 17148121.
  6. ^ Göth, A., Evans, C.S. (2004). "Social responses without early experience: Australian brush-turkey chicks use specific visual cues to aggregate with conspecifics". Journal of Experimental Biology. 207: 2199–2208. doi:10.1242/jeb.01008.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ A case of mistaken identity for Australia’s extinct big bird
  8. ^ Birks, S.M. & S.V. Edwards (2002). A phylogeny of the megapodes (Aves: Megapodiidae) based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 23. pp. 408–21.
  9. ^ Taxonomy in Flux [1] Boyd, John (2007). "Megapodiidae" (PDF). Retrieved 30 August 2016.

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Megapode: Brief Summary
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The megapodes, also known as incubator birds or mound-builders, are stocky, medium-large, chicken-like birds with small heads and large feet in the family Megapodiidae. Their name literally means "large foot" (Greek: mega = large, poda = foot), and is a reference to the heavy legs and feet typical of these terrestrial birds. All are browsers, and all but the malleefowl occupy wooded habitats. Most are brown or black in color. Megapodes are superprecocial, hatching from their eggs in the most mature condition of any bird. They hatch with open eyes, bodily coordination and strength, full wing feathers, and downy body feathers, and are able to run, pursue prey, and in some species, fly on the same day they hatch.

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