SREL Reprint #1977





Mallard-like ducks in the Playa Lakes Region

Fedynich, A.M. and O.E. Rhodes Jr.

The relationship of the Mallard (Anas plaiyrhynchos L.) to similar members of the genus Anas is often complex (Johnsgard 1961). Hybridization of Mallards with American Black Ducks (A. rubripes Brewster), Mottled Ducks (A. fulvigula maculosa S.), and Mexican Ducks (A. diazi R.), further complicates taxonomic status and identification of subgroups within the Mallard complex. Experimental crosses and back crosses of Anatini result in a broad range of overlapping phenotypes (Phillips 1915, 1921). Furthermore, subgroups within the Mallard complex are often difficult to differentiate using biochemical methods (Ankney et al. 1986, Hitchmough et al. 1990). Thus, for wild monomorphic hybrids within the Mallard complex, it may be difficult at best to determine the taxonomic status of both parental types based on plumage characteristics or biochemical analysis and nearly impossible to determine in which Fi generation the bird belongs.

The Playa Lakes Region (PLR) in the Southern Great Plains represents a major wintering area for waterfowl in the Central Flyway. At least 14 species of ducks occur on the PLR. However, few Mallard-like ducks have been reported. Oberholser (1974a) reported a Mexican Duck collected in Swisher County, Texas and a sight record in Randall County, Texas. However, Hubbard (1977) believed that both were probably Mottled Ducks and he suggested that reports of Mexican Ducks in Colorado and Nebraska were most likely hybrids between Mallards and Black Ducks or Mallards and Mottled Ducks. Although Mottled Ducks have been considered a coastal species, they have been found in Oklahoma (Sutton 1971), Kansas (McHenry 1968), Nebraska (Silcock et al. 1986), northeast Texas, Iowa, and Wisconsin (Stutzenbaker 1988). These reports suggest extensive inland movements by at least some individuals from traditionally non-migratory Mottled Duck and Mexican Duck populations.

SREL Reprint #1977

Fedynich, A.M. and O.E. Rhodes Jr. 1995. Mallard like ducks in the Playa Lakes Region. The Wilson Bulletin 107:548-551.

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