The Hawaiian Duck appears to be of hybrid origin

13 Jul 2015 - 11:01 -- Eduardo de Juana

Genetic data, in particular the existing phylogenetic discord between mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA, suggest that the currently endangered Hawaiian Duck (Anas wyvilliana) is descended from a hybridization event between the Mallard (A. platyrhynchos) and Laysan Duck (A. laysanensis) that occurred around the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary#R. This is further supported by circumstantial evidence from the Hawaiian subfossil record.

Related content matching this news

Hawaiian Duck (Anas wyvilliana)


Anas wyvilliana

P. L. Sclater, 1878, Hawaiian Islands.

Hitherto included within A. platyrhynchos. Genetic data suggest that it is descended from a hybridization event between A. platyrhynchos...

Descriptive notes: 44–51 cm; 568–628 g. Small, dark brown dabbling duck with orange legs and narrow whitish eyering. Males of two types, both with greenish-olive bill and dark mark on culmen: ‘brighter’ males with notable green speckling on crown and nape...
figure, drawing, illustration of Hawaiian Duck (Anas wyvilliana)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)


Anas platyrhynchos

Linnaeus, 1758, Europe.

Sometimes considered to include some or all of A. laysanensis, A. rubripes, A. fulvigula and A. wyvilliana. Probable...

Descriptive notes: Male 55–70 cm, female 50–60 cm; male 870–1800 g, female 735–1320 g; wingspan 75–100 cm (nominate). Large, heavy-looking, dabbling duck; eclipse plumages (both sexes) can be mistaken for other ducks,...
figure, drawing, illustration of Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Laysan Duck (Anas laysanensis)


Anas laysanensis

Rothschild, 1892, Laysan Island.

Hitherto normally included within A. platyrhynchos. Probable unstable hybrids of A. superciliosa and present species, A. platyrhynchos...

Descriptive notes: 38–43 cm, 348–548 g. Easily identified as it is the only resident duck on Laysan; very small and dark-headed, with some adult males showing slight iridescence, white eyering, and adults with variable white plumage on head...
figure, drawing, illustration of Laysan Duck (Anas laysanensis)