Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 7, Issue 10, pp 1313-1323

First online:

Meller's duck: A threatened species receives recognition at last

  • H. Glyn YoungAffiliated withJersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, Les Augrès Manor, Trinity
  • , Judith M. RhymerAffiliated withDepartment of Wildlife Ecology, University of Maine

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Wetland areas of Madagascar, increasingly threatened by extensive habitat modification, contain many little known endemic species. One of these species, Meller's duck (Anas melleri), is restricted to the eastern slope of the central highlands but for many years was just considered a recent island isolate of the widespread common mallard (A. platyrhynchos) and, therefore, not worthy of protection. Phylogenetic analysis, based on mitochondrial d-loop DNA sequences, indicates that Meller's duck is distinct from the mallard and from its nearest geographical congener, the yellow-billed duck (A. undulata) and may have evolved from a non-dimorphic ancestor, the African black duck (A. sparsa). A decline in numbers of the Near-Threatened Meller's duck highlights the need for adequate protection for Madagascar's wetlands.

Meller's duck Anas melleri Madagascar molecular phylogeny wetland biodiversity