Phylogenetic constraint on male parental care in the dabbling ducks

Kevin P. Johnson, Frank McKinney, Michael D. Sorenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phylogenetic constraint and inertia, i.e. limitations on future evolutionary trajectories imposed by previous adaptation, are often invoked to explain behavioural, morphological and physiological traits that defy explanation in an adaptive context. We reconstructed historical changes in male parental care behaviour in the dabbling ducks (family: Anatidae; tribe: Anatini) using a phylogeny based on mitochondrial DNA sequences. Male parental care is observed in many tropical and Southern hemisphere dabbling ducks but is lacking in all Northern hemisphere species. Southern hemisphere species that are very recently derived from Northern hemisphere ancestors, however, are exceptions to this general pattern. Lack of male parental care in these species can be attributed to phylogenetic constraint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)759-763
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1421
StatePublished - Apr 22 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • Anas
  • Comparative analysis
  • Constraint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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