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Overview

Distribution

Geographic Range

Mottled ducks are found only in North America and are year-round residents. They are found in high densities in the intermediate marshlands of Louisiana and Southern Texas. Their population is very dense in the state of Florida from Alachua County to Cape Sable. However, they are found in the highest numbers in the wetlands around Lake Okeechobee and the areas around the Upper St. Johns River. They are also found in small numbers around the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama and the Mississippi coastal borders (approximately one-eighth of the population). A very small population was found as far south as Vera Cruz, Mexico.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Moorman, T., P. Gray. 1994. Mottled duck (Anas fulvigula). Pp. 1-20 in A Poole, F Gill, eds. The Birds of North America, Vol. 81. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologist's Union, Washington, D.C.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (200,000 to >2,500,000 square km (about 80,000 to >1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDS: Gulf Coast from southern Louisiana and Texas south to Tamaulipas; peninsular Florida from Alachua County south to Cape Sable (greatest densities in southern Florida near Lake Okeechobee, Johnson et al. 1991); and locally inland in southeastern Colorado, western Kansas, Oklahoma (rarely), and northeastern Texas. WINTERS: breeding range and Gulf Coast. Highest winter densities occur in coastal Texas and Louisiana and in southern Florida, mostly associated with national wildlife refuges (Root 1988).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Mottled ducks are brown and are not easily distinguished from American black ducks (Anas rubripes). They have an iridescent blue speculum and buffy plumage, which makes them appear lighter than other species. They lack a few features that other ducks have such as white anterior edges on the speculum. These ducks appear to be uniformly dark from a distance. Mottled ducks are sexually dimorphic. The bills of males are bright yellow, but are drab colored in females. The females are grayer whereas the males are very brown in color. The tails of the males have a faint pattern but the tails of the females are patternless. Both sexes have blackish-brown upper sides and undersides. Both also have a smoke-gray U-shaped stripe on their undersides. They weigh from 810 to 1330 g and are 50 to 61 cm long with wingspans from 243 to 270 cm. Males tend to be larger than females.

Range mass: 810 to 1330 g.

Average mass: 1043 g.

Range length: 50 to 61 cm.

Average length: 55 cm.

Range wingspan: 243 to 270 mm.

Average wingspan: 259 mm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

  • The American Ornithologists Union, 1992. Handbook of Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.
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Size

Length: 56 cm

Weight: 1030 grams

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Type Information

Type for Anas fulvigula
Catalog Number: USNM 84710
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Birds
Sex/Stage: Male;
Preparation: Skin: Whole
Collector(s): C. Maynard
Year Collected: 1872
Locality: Indian River, N of Haulover Canal and 1.5 m From Dummitt'S Grove On Mosquito Lagoon, Brevard, Florida, United States, North America
  • Type: Ridgway. February 1874. American Naturalist. 8: 111.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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In Florida, mottled ducks are found in freshwater wetlands, ditches, wet prairies and flooded marshes. In some seasons, mottled ducks are also found in rice and flooded fallow fields. In some cases, they have been found in small numbers in mosquito control areas. They stay in the same area year-round.

In Texas and Louisiana, mottled ducks are found fresh and saltwater marshes and brackish ponds. These areas are full of vegetation such as bulrush, long grasses, rice, cutgrass and bultongue.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams; temporary pools; coastal ; brackish water

Wetlands: marsh

Other Habitat Features: estuarine

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Comments: Primarily in coastal wetlands, both freshwater and brackish situations, in marshes and ponds, foraging also in ungrazed fields and in rice (AOU 1983). In agricultural areas in southwestern Louisiana, habitats used most frequently were fresh marsh, rice, and flooded harvested fields (Zwank et al. 1989). In Florida, avoided most wetland habitats, but emergent wetlands and ditches tended to be occupied by more birds than expected based on abundance (Johnson et al. 1991). Nests on ground under bush or in concealing grasses on high ground in or near marsh or on island, often under palmettos in Florida (Terres 1980).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Inland populations are migratory.

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Mottled ducks are carnivors and herbivores. They eat aquatic invertebrates and small fish. They often eat snails, crayfish, beetles, dragonfly nymphs, fish and midge larvae. Invertebrates make up from 1 to 40 percent of their diet. They also eat seeds, grasses, aquatic vegetation and rice.

Mottled ducks usually feed in pairs in the fall and winter. During the summer, they may feed in small groups of about twenty. From August through October (especially in the rice fields) they often feed in flocks of around three thousand. When the ducks feed alone, they search the marshlands for seeds and invertebrates by sitting on the water and tipping their heads under water (a behavior called dabbling). They rarely dive for food, but when they do, it is for minnows.

Animal Foods: mammals; fish; eggs; insects; mollusks; aquatic or marine worms; aquatic crustaceans

Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Comments: Eats mainly mollusks, crustaceans, insects, seeds of grasses and sedges, and stems, leaves, and rootstalks of aquatic plants (Palmer 1976).

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Mottled ducks eat aquatic invertebrates and small fish, and help to regulate their populations. Mammals, birds of prey and other animals eat mottled ducks and help regulate their population. Their consumption of vegetation around their habitats prevents over-growth of these plants.

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Predation

To escape from predators, most adults fly away. If they are ducklings and molting adults and are unable to fly, they dive underwater or hide in brush. The adult females are very protective of their broods and quack loudly at any approaching intruders.

Mammalian predators feed on eggs, nesting females, ducklings and adults during molting season. Some of these predators include gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), American mink (Neovison vison), river otters (Lontra canadensis), striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis), ground squirrels (genus Spermophilus) and raccoons (Procyon lotor). Northern harriers (Circus cyaneus) and peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) also prey on mottled ducks. In Florida, alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) eat the ducklings and some flightless adults. Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina), bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) and bass (Micropterus salmoides) also prey on ducklings.

Known Predators:

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Known predators

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Known prey organisms

Anas fulvigula preys on:
Actinopterygii
aquatic or marine worms
Mollusca
Crustacea
Insecta
Mammalia

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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General Ecology

In southwestern Louisiana, density was 0.2-2.7/sq km (Zwank et al. 1989). In Florida, average density ranged up to 0.64/sq km (Johnson et al. 1991).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Mottled ducks communicate with each other by making noise and displaying (see Mating Systems and Behavior).

Their sounds resemble those of mallards. The males have a low raspy "“raeb"” call. A single call note is an alarm signal and two notes together signify either courtship or conversational calls. The females also have a low, raspy call. It starts out high pitched and lowers in pitch throughout the call. Female calls consist of six notes, the second one is the highest pitched. When the female is alerted, she lets out three or four quick quacks. The female uses a "gagg" note when she is inciting (attracting) her mate.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Mottled ducks have relatively short lifespans, on average they live for only 2 years. They have an annual mortality rate of about 50%. The longest known lifespan in the wild is thirteen years. The expected lifespan in the wild is five years. The expected lifespan in captivity is twenty years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
13 (high) years.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
60.83 (high) months.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
24.33 months.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
20 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 20 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

Pair formation begins as early as March. Pairs usually break-up shortly after the eggs are laid and incubation begins. The ducks are monogamous during the breeding season. They are not monogamous for life, however. Each season new pairs are formed. They engage in many courtship displays which include: head-shakes (the male simply shakes his head in the females direction), intro-shakes (the male, to gain the female's attention, treads water then rises above the water and shakes his head), grunt-whistles (the male places his bill in the water, pulls it up while making noise and splashes the water in the air), inciting (the female performs this display for the male after the pair has formed), preen-behind-wing (fake preening).

This whole display takes only about three minutes. The ducks also have another courtship ritual in which the male swims around the female, pulling his head in and out of the water; this behavior is known as bridling.

Mating System: monogamous

Mottled ducks breed once yearly. Eighty percent have formed pairs by November and mating begins in January. The nests are made of matted grass and are on the ground or suspended over shallow water and are in dense grasses. Females lay 5 to 13 eggs per clutch. The eggs take 24 to 28 days to hatch. The ducks fledge after 45 to 56 days. They are independent adults in 65 to 70 days. Both males and females are sexually mature in one year.

Breeding interval: Mottled Ducks breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Mottled ducks form pairs in November; mating starts in January.

Range eggs per season: 5 to 13.

Range time to hatching: 24 to 28 days.

Range fledging age: 45 to 56 days.

Range time to independence: 65 to 70 days.

Average time to independence: 68 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization

After the eggs hatch, the females lead the brood from the nest. The ducklings are precocial and are able to find their own food. They tend to eat invertebrate larvae when available. The mothers care for the young approximately 20% of the day. The mother spends 34% of her time feeding, 28% resting, 11% preening and 20% watching for predators. The females give alarm calls if an intruder approaches the nest or her young. Broods tend to gather together at night to keep safe. The females usually stay with the ducklings until they can fly (about 45 to 56 days).

Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • The American Ornithologists Union, 1992. Handbook of Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Editions.
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife, 2004. "An Introduction to Florida's Mottled Duck" (On-line). Accessed April 28, 2004 at http://www.wildflorida.org/duck/Mottled_Ducks/mottled_duck.htm.
  • Moorman, T., P. Gray. 1994. Mottled duck (Anas fulvigula). Pp. 1-20 in A Poole, F Gill, eds. The Birds of North America, Vol. 81. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologist's Union, Washington, D.C.
  • Pranty, B. 2002. "Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula)" (On-line). Florida's Breeding Atlas. Accessed April 28, 2004 at http://www.wildflorida.org/bba/modu.htm.
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Clutch size is about 8-11. Incubation, by female, lasts about 25-27 days. Young are very terrestrial in Florida, first fly at about 54-60 days.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Anas fulvigula

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank.   Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.  Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.

TCTATACCTTATCTTCGGGGCATGAGCCGGAATAATTGGCACAGCACTCAGCCTACTGATCCGGGCAGAGCTAGGCCAGCCAGGGACCCTCCTGGGCGACGACCAAATTTATAACGTGATCGTCACCGCTCACGCCTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTCATGGTAATACCCATCATAATTGGAGGGTTCGGCAACTGATTGGTCCCCCTGATAATCGGTGCCCCCGACATAGCATTCCCACGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTCCTCCCACCATCATTCCTCCTTCTACTCGCCTCATCCACTGTAGAAGCTGGCGCTGGTACAGGTTGAACCGTATACCCACCTCTAGCAGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCCGGAGCCTCAGTGGACCTGGCTATCTTCTCACTTCACCTGGCCGGTGTCTCCTCCATCCTCGGAGCCATTAACTTCATTACCACAGCCATCAACATAAAACCCCCCGCACTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCACTTTTCGTCTGATCAGTCCTAATTACCGCCATCCTGCTCCTCCTATCACTCCCCGTCCTCGCCGCCGGCATCACAATGCTACTAACCGACCGAAACCTAAACACTACATTCTTTGATCCTGCCGGAGGAGGAGACCCAATCCTGTACCAGCACCTANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Anas fulvigula

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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In Florida, mottled ducks have lost 3.7 million acres of wetland habitat due to drainage for citrus orchards and improved pastures for cattle. In Texas and Louisiana, many of the wetlands have been depleted as a result of industrialization, urbanization, coastal erosion and drainage (approximately 102 to 150 sqaure kilometers are destroyed per year). Feral mallard ducks (which are kept as pets) mate with mottled ducks, which decreases the number of pure mottled ducks in the population. Mottled ducks also tend to breed with other species of ducks, which also decreases their genetic representation in the population. The effects of hunting are undetermined for this species.

Mottled ducks are protected under the US Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4B,N4N : N4B: Apparently Secure - Breeding, N4N: Apparently Secure - Nonbreeding

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Limited distribution and considered uncommon.

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Population

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Degree of Threat: B : Moderately threatened throughout its range, communities provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure of the community over the long-term, but are apparently recoverable

Comments: Threats include habitat destruction due to development.

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Management

Global Protection: Unknown whether any occurrences are appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Much of the marshland along the Gulf coast is unprotected.

Needs: Protect marshland habitat by land purchase; reduce bag limits and shorten the hunting season.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of mottled ducks on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Mottled ducks often help control mosquito populations and are hunted by humans for food. In addition, their feathers are used to make a good quality down.

Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material; controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Mottled Duck

The Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula[2]) or Mottled Mallard is a medium-sized dabbling duck. It is intermediate in appearance between the female Mallard and the American Black Duck. It is closely related to those species, and is sometimes considered a subspecies of the former, but this is inappropriate (see systematics).

There are two distinct populations of Mottled Ducks. One population, A. fulvigula maculosa (Mottled Duck), lives on the Gulf of Mexico coast between Alabama and Tamaulipas (Mexico); outside the breeding season individual birds may venture as far south as to Veracruz. The other, A. fulvigula fulvigula (Florida Duck), is resident in central and south Florida and occasionally strays north to Georgia. The same disjunct distribution pattern was also historically found in the local Sandhill Cranes.

Along the Gulf of Mexico coast, the Mottled Duck is one of the most frequently banded waterfowl. This is due in part to the fact that it is mostly non-migratory. Approximately one out of every twenty mottled ducks is banded, making it an extremely prized and sought after bird among hunters.

Description[edit]

In Florida, USA

The adult Mottled Duck is 44–61 cm (17–24 in) long from head to tail. It has a dark body, lighter head and neck, orange legs and dark eyes. Both sexes have a shiny green-blue speculum (wing patch), which is not bordered with white as with the Mallard. Males and females are similar, but the male's bill is bright yellow, whereas the female's is deep to pale orange, occasionally lined with black splotches around the edges and near the base.

The plumage is darker than in female Mallards, especially at the tail, and the bill is yellower. In flight, the lack of a white border to the speculum is a key difference. The American Black Duck is darker than most Mottled Ducks, and its wing-patch is more purple than blue. The behaviour and voice are the same as the Mallard.

Mottled Ducks feed by dabbling in shallow water, and grazing on land. They mainly eat plants, but also some mollusks and aquatic insects. The ducks are fairly common within their restricted range; they are resident all-year round and do not migrate. The breeding habitat is coastal marshes. The nest is built on the ground amongst vegetation, such as bull-rush and marsh grass.

Systematics[edit]

The Floridan population, which occurs approximately south of Tampa, is separated as the nominate subspecies Anas fulvigula fulvigula and is occasionally called the Florida Duck or Florida Mallard.[3]) by being somewhat lighter in color and less heavily marked; while both subspecies are intermediate between female Mallards and American Black Ducks, the Florida Mottled Duck is closer to the former and the Mottled Duck closer to the latter in appearance; this is mainly recognizable in the lighter head being quite clearly separated from the darker breast in Mottled, but much less so in Florida Mottled Ducks. As the subspecies' ranges do not overlap, these birds can only be confused with female Mallards and American Black Ducks however; particularly female American Black Ducks are often only reliably separable by their dark purple speculum from Mottled Ducks in the field.

mtDNA control region sequence data indicates that these birds are derived from ancestral American Black Ducks, being far more distantly related to the Mallard, and that the subspecies, as a consequence of their rather limited range and sedentary habits, are genetically well distinct already (McCracken et al. 2001).

Florida subspecies

As in all members of the "mallardine" clade of ducks, they are able to produce fertile hybrids with their close relatives, the American Black Duck and the Mallard. This has always been so to a limited extent; individuals of the migratory American Black ducks which winter in the Mottled Duck's range may occasionally stay there and mate with the resident species, and for the Mallard, which colonized North America later, the same holds true (McCracken et al. 2001).

While the resultant gene flow is presently no cause for concern,[4] habitat destruction and excessive hunting could eventually reduce this species to the point where the hybridization with mallards would threaten to make it disappear as a distinct taxon (Rhymer & Simberloff 1996). This especially applies to the Florida Duck (Mazourek & Gray 1994), in the fairly small range of which rampant habitat destruction due to urbanization and draining of wetlands has taken place in the last decades; this in combination with climate change affecting the Everglades could be sufficient to cause the Florida Duck to decline to a point where hunting would have to be restricted or prohibited (McCracken et al. 2001). At present, these birds too appear to be holding their own with a population of 50.000-70.000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004).

References[edit]

  • Mazourek, J. C. & Gray, P. N. (1994): The Florida duck or the mallard? Florida Wildlife 48(3): 29-31. DOC fulltext

Gallery[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Anas fulvigula". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Etymology: Anas, Ancient Greek for a duck. fulvigula, "tan-throated", from Latin fulva "tan" + gula, "throat".
  3. ^ It differes from the other subspecies, A. f. maculosa ( Etymology: maculosa, Latin for "the mottled one".
  4. ^ Except in a scientific sense, as it requires large sample sizes to appropriately study these ducks' phylogeny using mtDNA sequence data, which only documents a bird's evolutionary history on the maternal side.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Appears to constitute a superspecies with A. platyrhynchos and A. rubripes (AOU 1998). Evidence of hybridization with A. platyrhynchos observed in plains region of Colorado-Oklahoma. Sometimes included in A. platyrhynchos. (AOU 1983). See Livezey (1991) for a phylogenetic analysis and classification (supergenera, subgenera, infragenera, etc.) of dabbling ducks based on comparative morphology.

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