Ecology, conservation, and phylogenetic position of the Madagascar Jacana Actophilornis albinucha

Josephine D’Urban Jackson, Sama Zefania, Sebastien Moehy, Andrew J. Bamford, Michael W. Bruford, Tamás Székely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


The Madagascar Jacana Actophilornis albinucha (Jacanidae) is an endemic shorebird found in the threatened wetlands of western Madagascar. This species is presumed to exhibit classical polyandry; however, few data are available to support that assumption. More generally, a lack of basic understanding of this species hinders conservation efforts. We conducted the most extensive study of the Madagascar Jacana to date, and report on its: 1) distribution, population size and density; 2) degree of sexual size dimorphism; and 3) phylogenetic position. The surveys were conducted at 54 lakes, between January and October in 2016. Madagascar Jacana were found at 22 lakes, and within these were distributed at a mean density of 3.5 ± 0.74 [SE] individuals per hectare of surveyed habitat. We estimate the global population size to be between 975 and 2 064 individuals, and habitat destruction appears to be the main threat to the species. Females were significantly larger than males, consistent with reports for other Jacanidae species. Using a mitochondrial DNA fragment, we expanded the Jacanidae genetic phylogeny, and confirmed that Madagascar Jacana is the sister species to the African Jacana Actophilornis africanus. Further studies are urgently needed to thoroughly re-assess the threat status and population trend of the Madagascar Jacana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-326
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Early online date9 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • African wetlands
  • Jacanidae
  • mtDNA
  • phylogeny
  • population density
  • sexual size dimorphism
  • shorebirds
  • visual survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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