paul in hildenborough's picture

What type of duck?

Observed: 6th May 2010 By: paul in hildenb...

Looks like a mallard, but isn't?

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) interacts


Kluut's picture


How much non-mallard DNA is in it is imposible to say, but there is obviously quite a bit - if it carried only mallard DNA, it would be a mallard, which it ain't.
What it certainly contains is MUTATED mallard DNA - most certainly not the same as mallard DNA.
What you actually mean is that it (almost) certainly contains no DNA derived from any species but A. platyrhynchos ie. it is not a hybrid.

RoyW's picture

Actually it IS a Mallard.

I'm in full agreement with David here. All forms of domesticated Mallards are still Mallards, and have Mallard DNA.
It is possible to argue that it is not a wild Mallard, or a pure example of any specific breed (all of which have a specific appearance). It is a Mallard though.

Kluut's picture

Sorry - wrong

Do some reading and brush-up on your genetics.
Very simple biological fact of genetics - you are your genes, if you have the genes of a mallard, you are a mallard. If you don't look like a mallard, you do not have a mallard's set of genes, which is what was stated.
Humans share 99% of their genes with chimps, but that does not make humans, chimpanzees. This bird will share 99+% of its genes with a true mallard, but it is not a mallard because it does not have all of and only the genes of a mallard.

RoyW's picture

Not all individuals of a species look the same.

There are lots of different species that have races or subspecies that are very different in many morphological features (including size, shape, colours etc). Generally this is due to different population having evolved in isolation, with different genetic mutations becoming prevalent within the populations due to selective pressures. In species that have been selectively bred by humans similar processes occur but we select the genes that are passed on (or the physical traits at least).
The variation in species seen naturally, and the variation produced by artificial selection, comes from within a species. Artificially selection does not add genes from outside of a species (occasional crossbreeding can, but this is very rarely used to create new breeds). All breeds of Mallard are Mallards, regardless of how different they look (in the same way that all breeds of dog are one species.

Kluut's picture

Sorry - wrong

You do not understand enough, deeply enough, about genes, genetics and mutations.

It was stated -

"I dount there is anything other than mallard DNA in there."

Patently not so - if the bird carried only malard DNA, it would be a mallard in every and all respects - it isn't - mutated mallard DNA is NOT mallard DNA. (Although there was a contradiction in the same breath, stating there was domestic genetic material as well - both can't be true.)

This has nothing at all to do with what species it is or is not. This is pedantry, but so was the original comment from David.

Look at it this way -
The WWT is going to sponsor the reintroduction of mallard into Scottish Goboland, from where it was exterminated due to hunting. Would they consider using this bird? Why?
Would you be happy to reintroduce the wolf to the UK by emptying the kennels at Battersea?They are all Canis lupus after all.

RoyW's picture

A reply to Kluut

I do not wish to argue, I have simply stated my opinion, which still agrees with David. It is a Mallard, and therefore has Mallard DNA (even though the physical appearance, and some DNA, is different from pure, wild Mallards).
I do have an understanding about genes, genetics, and mutations, and I also have an understanding about taxonomy.
My original comment was based on your statement "How much non-mallard DNA is in it is imposible to say, but there is obviously quite a bit - if it carried only mallard DNA, it would be a mallard, which it ain't." I assume that what you mean is that it is not the same as a pure, wild Mallard. It is however a Mallard, and would be classified as Anas platyrhynchus.
When you later say "This has nothing at all to do with what species it is or is not." I completely disagree with you. Many species have different races, subspecies and varieties, all of which have different DNA from each other. In this example the duck can be identified as a Mallard, but it is not possible to take the identification any further and identify a race, or in this case, an artificially bred variety, because as you have suggested it is probably a mix. All Mallard breeds have slightly different DNA, but they are still Mallards, which means that it is all Mallard DNA.

As for your comments on reintroductions -
All well thought out reintroduction schemes try and take stock from populations that are genetically as close as possible to the original population. If Mallards were to be reintroduced anywhere because they had been hunted to extinction then the most similar wild stock would be found. As an example, if Swallowtail Butterflies died out from all but a couple of their breeding sites in Britain, reintroduction attempts would almost certainly use stock from the remaining populations (however small) rather than introductions from less vulnerable populations on the continent, because the continental ones are a different race.
I would thing that it is obvious that domestic breeds would not be released in a reintroduction scheme - and all possible care is taken to avoid mistakes such as the 're'introduction of Canadian Beavers to areas from which European Beavers have been lost.

Yes the DNA is different between domestic breeds and there wild relatives, but Mallard DNA is still Mallard DNA, and the DNA of a Great Dane, a Chihuahua, and a Wolf is all still that of Canis lupus.

I will not be replying any further on this topic, and I would like to suggest that you think a little bit more about some of the content of your replies in future. It is very easy to give an opinion without the need to suggest that the person you are replying to has no understanding and needs to go and read up on the basics, and even if that is the case it can be done without putting it as bluntly as you have here. The titles "Sorry Wrong", and the first lines in your posts "Do some reading and brush-up on your genetics" & "You do not understand enough, deeply enough, about genes, genetics and mutations" come across as very rude.

Kluut's picture

Which comment?

So what are you agreeing with from David's comments?
That is contains only mallard DNA, or it contains domestic DNA. Both can't be correct, unless you believe it to be a chimera.

You are still completely missing the point - A. platyrhynchos it might be (var. domestica), but a mallard (A. p. platyrhynchos or A. p. conboschus) it certainly is not - there is no taxonomically valid description of any valid sub-species of A. p. that would fit this bird. It would not be used for a reintroduction or any form of mallard conservation work (outside of a rare breeds survival farm), anywhere by but anyone but a fool because it is not a mallard.

RoyW's picture

Apologies to anyone who isn't interested.

I wasn't going to reply but...

David's comment was correct on BOTH points, this is a domestic Mallard so has domestic MALLARD DNA. Although it is slightly different from the DNA of wild Mallard subspecies, the DNA of domestic Mallards is still Mallard DNA.

You are agreeing that it is Anas platyrhynchos, and if it is Anas platyrhynchos it IS a Mallard (which as far as I'm concerned ends the discussion).
The fact that it doesn't fit any of the seven currently recognised wild subspecies of Mallard is irrelevant because no one has said that it is a wild Mallard.

paul in hildenborough's picture

Anas platyrhynchos

Hi Roy,

thanks for your help in putting this to bed.
Although the thread was getting a little confusing, I had similar thoughts to yours and David's, although I am no authority at all, so I was only following the logic. I knew it wasn't a wild mallard and suspected that it might merely be a mallard hybrid displaying characteristics of the domestic duck, but I had no idea it would be such flash point. But anyway, thanks to all for contributing. Hopefully going to find some reptiles this weekend, will keep posting.