Hellenica World

Gallirallus

Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Aves
Subclassis: Carinatae
Infraclassis: Neornithes
Parvclassis: Neognathae
Ordo: Gruiformes
Familia: Rallidae
Genus: Gallirallus
Species: G. australis - G. calayanensis - G. conditicius - †G. dieffenbachii - †G. epulare - †G. ernstmayri - †G. gracilitibia - †G. huiatua - G. insignis - G. lafresnayanus - †G. modestus - G. okinawae - G. owstoni - †G. pacificus - †G. pendiculentus - G. philippensis - †G. pisonii - †G. ripleyi - †G. roletti - G. rovianae - G. sharpei - †G. storrsolsoni - G. striatus - G. sylvestris - †G. temptatus - G. torquatus - †G. wakensis - †G. vekamatolu

Name

Gallirallus Lafresnaye, 1841

References

* Lafresnaye 1841. Rev.Zool. 4 p.243

Vernacular names
Internationalization
Lietuvių: Vekos
Suomi: Tyynenmerenluhtakanat

Gallirallus is a genus that contains about a dozen living species of rails that live in the Australasian-Pacific region. Many of these, including the most well-known one - the bold and inquisitive weka of New Zealand - are flightless or nearly so; others, such as the Buff-banded Rail, can go for considerable distances once airborne even though they are not great flyers. This has enabled the flying species of this genus to colonize islands all over the region.
Buff-banded Rail

Many of the resultant flightless island endemics became extinct after the arrival of humans, which hunted these birds for food, introduced novel predators like rats, dogs or pigs, and upset the local ecosystems. A common Polynesian name of these rails, mainly relatives of G. philippensis, is veka/weka (in English, this name is generally limited to Gallirallus australis).

One species, the Guam Rail, is extinct in the wild; there exists a semi-wild population in preparation for reintroduction to its original habitat. Three more species have gone extinct in historic times, while the New Caledonian Rail probably is extinct. The Sharpe's Rail, only known from the type specimen of unclear origin, may also be extinct, although recent evidence suggests that it is invalid, and instead should be regarded as a morph of the Buff-banded Rail.[1] Two further species are assumed from circumstantial evidence to have survived into the Modern era but are not known from recent specimens.

On the other hand, Gallirallus species are (with the exception of the Weka) notoriously retiring and shy birds with often drab coloration. Given that the Okinawa Rail and the Calayan Rail have only been discovered in the late 20th century and as late as 2004, respectively, it cannot be ruled out that the New Caledonian and Sharpe's Rail may still exist.


Living and recently extinct species


* Weka, Gallirallus australis
* New Caledonian Rail, Gallirallus lafresnayanus - probably extinct (c.1990?)
* Lord Howe Woodhen, Gallirallus sylvestris
* Okinawa Rail, Gallirallus okinawae
* Calayan Rail, Gallirallus calayanensis
* Barred Rail, Gallirallus torquatus
* New Britain Rail, Gallirallus insignis
* Buff-banded Rail, Gallirallus philippensis
* Roviana Rail, Gallirallus rovianae
* Guam Rail, Gallirallus owstoni - extinct in the wild (late 1980s)
* Dieffenbach's Rail, Gallirallus dieffenbachii - extinct (mid-19th century)
* Tahiti Rail, Gallirallus pacificus - extinct (late 18th - 19th century)
* Wake Island Rail, Gallirallus wakensis - extinct (1945)
* Sharpe's Rail, Gallirallus sharpei - if valid,[1] possibly extinct (20th century?)
* Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus


Species extinct before 1500 AD

* Nuku Hiva Rail, Gallirallus epulare
* Ua Huka Rail, Gallirallus gracilitibia
* Niue Rail, Gallirallus huiatua [2]
* Mangaia Rail, Gallirallus ripleyi
* Tahuata Rail, Gallirallus roletti
* Huahine Rail, Gallirallus storrsolsoni
* ‘Eua Rail, Gallirallus vekamatolu - possibly survived to the early 19th century[3]
* Marianas Rail, Gallirallus cf. owstoni
* New Ireland Rail, Gallirallus sp.
* Norfolk Island Rail, Gallirallus sp. - possibly survived to the early 19th century
* Hiva Oa Rail, ?Gallirallus sp.


Footnotes

1. ^ a b BirdLife International Globally Threatened Forums, 2008
2. ^ "Gallirallus huiatua; holotype". Collections Online. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. http://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/objectdetails.aspx?oid=39840. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
3. ^ A similar bird was found to live on nearby Vava‘u in 1793. Given that G. vekamatolu was flightless, this may just as well represent a related species.

References

* BirdLife International Globally Threatened Forums (2008). Sharpe’s Rail (Gallirallus sharpei): no longer recognised taxonomically. Accessed 2008-12-15.
* BirdLife International www.birdlife.org

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