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Vervain Hummingbird Mellisuga minima

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Trochilidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Clark, Christopher J.
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Priorities for Future Research

Future research would be best focused on 1) additional natural history observations, such as on breeding and the length of the breeding season, or seasonal movements; 2) examination of the island phylogeography of the genus Mellisuga, to verify whether the Bee Hummingbird is really the Vervain’s sister, and also to test whether the two subspecies of the Vervain could be separate species. To be done properly, this would require additional scientific collection of voucher specimens, especially from Hispanola and from the Bee Hummingbird in Cuba. 3) better descriptions and understanding of the Vervain Hummingbird’s breeding system, including the function and significance of the behavioral displays described for males. For example, if the mating system is really an 'exploded lek' with high mating skew, and therefore high levels of sexual selection on males, why has the male Vervain lost showy iridescent feathers? And, why is the tail morphology sexually dimorphic if male Vervains do not produce sounds with their tail-feathers? Could these be an indication that this is a paedomorphic species? Ideally, future studies would also address population and demography, which are virtually unknown for any hummingbird species.  However this species does not appear to be ideal for this type of research, due to the difficulty of catching a large number of individuals. By contrast, it appears that it is an excellent cage species (Griswold 1960), and therefore would be a possible candidate for studies of captive individuals.

Recommended Citation

Clark, Christopher J. 2009. Vervain Hummingbird (Mellisuga minima), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.verhum1.01