Every year since the 1970s, several million captive Mallard have been released in Europe for hunting purposes. This may lead to a spread of unnatural phenotypes into the wild. Two widespread and common migratory ducks were studied: Mallard Anas platyrhynchos and Teal A. crecca. Mallard is the only duck species for which large-scale stocking programs occur in the region, and Teal hence serves as a control. In a « before-after » design, we compared duck bill lamellar density over the last thirty years. Lamellar density in Mallard, but not Teal, decreased. The observed 10 % decrease occurred in the first (proximate) centimetre of the bill, the most crucial in terms of food filtration. We hypothesize the observed change in bill morphology was due to the propagation of captive Mallard into the wild: captive Mallard mainly eat large items, relaxing the natural selection pressure maintaining high lamellar density for sieving small preys in wild ducks.
|Status||Publicerad - 2011|
- Biologi (106)