The evolution of postcopulatory displays in dabbling ducks (Anatini): A phylogenetic perspective

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although postcopulatory displays are widespread in animals, little is known about their function or the intended receiver. The postcopulatory displays of dabbling ducks are among the best described for any animal group. We documented the presence of initial and additional postcopulatory displays in nearly all dabbling duck species. We then reconstructed the evolution of postcopulatory displays in dabbling ducks using a phylogeny derived from mitochondrial DNA sequences. The display immediately following copulation (the initial display) is highly stereotyped in most species and shows extreme phylogenetic conservation. In contrast, the performance of additional displays is less stereotyped and less phylogenetically conservative. We review the possible functions of postcopulatory displays. Using evidence from display orientation, display form and phylogenetic reconstruction, we suggest that the most likely functions of postcopulatory displays in dabbling ducks are pair bond maintenance, individual identification, or signalling a successful copulation. (C) 2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)953-963
Number of pages11
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


Dive into the research topics of 'The evolution of postcopulatory displays in dabbling ducks (Anatini): A phylogenetic perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this