We tested whether Porphyrio porphyrio (Purple Swamphen) in South Florida selected particular types of food and whether their diets differed among 3 geographically separate wetlands (northern Everglades, a stormwater treatment marsh, and Lake Okeechobee littoral zone). We found that the Purple Swamphens we collected from the treatment marsh were larger than those from the other sites. The primary food item of the Purple Swamphen at all 3 sites was Eleocharis cellulosa (Gulf-coast Spikerush), comprising 79%, 72%, and 49% mean dry weight of total gut contents for the northern Everglades, littoral zone, and treatment marsh, respectively. Accounting for availability, Purple Swamphens were strongly selective for Gulf-coast Spikerush, which is a common plant in the southeastern US. The availability of this plant is not likely to be a factor limiting the spread of this bird northward.
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Vol. 15 • No. sp8