Silent domestication of wildlife in the Anthropocene: The mallard as a case study

Jocelyn Champagnon, Johan Elmberg, Matthieu Guillemain, Philip Lavretsky, Robert G. Clark, Pär Söderquist

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelPeer review


In the Anthropocene, human activities have been a dominant force affecting wildlife, natural habitats, and climate worldwide. Over time, increasing incidences of wildlife-human interactions may have positive outcomes for some generalist species, but studies continue to uncover that most predictably these generalist wild species also suffer from such interactions. In particular, the line between domestic and wild continues to blur as gene flow between these groups intensifies in the Anthropocene. We explore the meaning of wildness, focusing on the mallard, currently the most abundant duck species in the world. Mallard has been connected to humans for tens of thousands of years. Considered an exemplary generalist species with the capacity to adapt to rapidly changing environments, evidence gathered from a variety of disciplines suggests that some management efforts over the last centuries have resulted in the deterioration of the mallard's prolific nature, and that the apparent success in terms of current population size and wide distribution could mask a genetic collapse. Highlighting warning signs from the mallard system, in this Perspectives paper we discuss how active management of habitats and populations runs the risk of compromising species' wildness, and we suggest precautionary and counter-measures in the context of species management and conservation.
TidskriftBiological Conservation
StatusPublicerad - 2023-nov.-20

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