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WSB study: The key to distinguishing Florida mottled ducks

Cara J

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Following the introduction of mallards in Florida in the 1960s as a favorite in backyard ponds and other landscaped areas, the ducks took a liking to Florida mottled ducks. Now nearly 60 years later, hybridization and introgression is threatening the native species. In a study published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin, researchers developed plumage keys that serve as a field guide to distinguishing mottled ducks (A. fulvigula fulvigula) from mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and hybrids of the two species. The new tool could have major implications for managing the Florida mottled duck, according to Ron Bielefeld, an associate research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the lead author of the study. “It became obvious to us many years ago that we needed to have some way in the field to determine in real time if we had a pure mottled duck, a hybrid, or a mallard in our hands,” said Bielefeld. The problem became apparent about 20 years ago, he says, but genetic techniques weren’t good enough to distinguish the different duck species from one another and work on a key could go no further. However, as genetic techniques advanced, the biologists took another look. Bielefeld and [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/wsb-study-the-key-to-distinguishing-florida-mottled-ducks/

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