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Interspecific Aggression By Barrow's Goldeneye: a Descriptive and Functional Analysis

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We describe interspecific aggression and territoriality by a diving duck, the Barrow's goldeneye. Males of this species are strongly interspecifically territorial early during the breeding season, and in winter. Females are interspecifically territorial while tending broods of ducklings. Aggression was strongest against conspecifics, and against the con-generic bufflehead, which shares the same breeding habitat. Other diving ducks, which overlap in diet with goldeneyes, were frequently attacked, while dabbling ducks, with differing feeding habits, were generally tolerated, and were seldom attacked. One dabbling duck, the blue-winged teal, in which the drake resembles the Barrow's goldeneye drake in plumage, was attacked more strongly than other dabblers. We propose that the strong interspecific aggressiveness exhibited by the Barrow's goldeneye, and its congeners the bufflehead and common goldeneye, is a consequence of the strong intraspecific aggressiveness of these species. Selectivity in aggression towards victims of different species can be explained by two hypotheses. Species that have (1) similar diets, and (2) similar plumages to Barrow's goldeneye are selectively attacked.

Affiliations: 1: Canadian Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 340, Delta, B.C., Canada V4K 3Y3; 2: Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, 6270 University Boulevard, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T 2A9

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