Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in Johnsgard in American Midland Naturalist (January 1967) 77(1). Copyright 1967, University of Notre Dame. Used by permission. Also published as: Studies (no. 378) from the Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Nebraska.


Changes in general fall and winter distributions of Mallards and Black Ducks over the past century have resulted in markedly increased sympatric contact during pair formation between these two forms, and have been responsible for increased opportunities for hybridization. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife records of hybrids from 34 states indicate a minimal current hybridization rate that is about 4% of the frequency expected on the basis of mating according to mathematical probabilities of chance contact. Thus, hybridization is most frequent where both forms are almost equally abundant, indicating that no reinforcement of differences reducing hybridization in the primary zone of contact is detectable. The primary zone of sympatry has moved eastward approximately 300 miles during the past half century and will almost certainly continue to do so. Owing to its much smaller gene pool, the Black Duck is vulnerable to eventual swamping through hybridization and introgression, although the present hybridization rate is sufficiently low as to make this unlikely in the foreseeable future.

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