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Inheritance of Behavioral Characters in F2 Mallard x Pintail (Anas Pla Tyrhynchos L. x Anas Acuta L.) Hybrids

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Through controlled breeding in captivity, 23 F2 male hybrids between Mallards and Pintails were produced. Breeding plumages in these males were analyzed by the hybrid index method and were found to exhibit considerable variation in a manner suggesting polygenic control. The pair-forming displays of 14 F2 males were studied, and sufficient data on 11 of these were obtained to permit the establishment of a behavioral hybrid index. It was found that all the hybrids performed individual displays or display components almost identical with those of the parental species where such displays are very similar in both species (Grunt-whistle), or performed intermediate displays of varying combinations where the homologous displays are present but differ somewhat in the parental species (Head-up-tail-up-Nod-swim sequence). With regard to displays that are present in only one of the parental species, the individual hybrids either performed these in an "all or none" fashion (Down-up, Chin-lifting) or rudimentary or aberrant versions of them (Burp, Raeb-raeb call). No displays occurred in the F2 hybrids that were not typical of one or both parental species, although an F3 male performed one display out of context, in that a post-copulatory display (Bridling) occurred during social display and was sequentially "linked" to a typical pair-forming display (Head-up-tail-up). A significant positive correlation (r = + 0.756) between the inheritance of behavioral and plumage characteristics in the F2 generation was found, based on comparison of hybrid index scores determined for II individual males. It is concluded that both groups of features are under genetic control, and in most cases probably involve relatively few genes. Such relatively simple genetic control has both evolutionary and taxonomic implications.

Affiliations: 1: Dept. of Zoology, Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebr., U.S.A.


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