Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/18/oz_black_ducks/

Native Oz ducks being raped to extinction

Got any mallard in you? Would you like some?

By Lester Haines

Posted in Science, 18th June 2010 09:03 GMT

Oz's native Pacific black ducks are apparently at serious risk of extinction, thanks to unwanted sexual advances by feral domestic mallards.

According to Victoria University research fellow Dr Patrick-Jean Guay, the "rape" of the Lucky Country's black ducks by "big, sexually aggressive" mallards is threatening the genetic purity of the former.

The hybrids resulting from such liaisons dangereuses are fertile, and "can also mate with pure-bred Pacific black ducks and this also reduces their unique genetics", as Guay put it.

Guay, who's doing a three-year study on the genetic integrity of the black duck population, told Oz's Daily Telegraph: "Female Pacific blacks will willingly mate with a mallard, but the mallards will also use their bigger size and mating aggression to force themselves on the natives.

He warned: "In New Zealand, it took less than 100 years from when the first mallards were introduced for wild Pacific black ducks to reach the brink of extinction."

The Telegraph suggestively notes that such interbreeding is "now happening in the bush as well as on urban waterways". ®

Bootnote

Ta very much to Josh Titley for the tip-off.