Hybridization in geese: A review

Jente Ottenburghs*, Pim van Hooft, Sipke E. van Wieren, Ronald C. Ydenberg, Herbert H.T. Prins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The high incidence of hybridization in waterfowl (ducks, geese and swans) makes this bird group an excellent study system to answer questions related to the evolution and maintenance of species boundaries. However, knowledge on waterfowl hybridization is biased towards ducks, with a large knowledge gap in geese. In this review, we assemble the available information on hybrid geese by focusing on three main themes: (1) incidence and frequency, (2) behavioural mechanisms leading to hybridization, and (3) hybrid fertility. Hybridization in geese is common on a species-level, but rare on a per-individual level. An overview of the different behavioural mechanisms indicates that forced extra-pair copulations and interspecific nest parasisitm can both lead to hybridization. Other sources of hybrids include hybridization in captivity and vagrant geese, which may both lead to a scarcity of conspecifics. The different mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and it is currently not possible to discriminate between the different mechanisms without quantitative data. Most hybrid geese are fertile; only in crosses between distantly related species do female hybrids become sterile. This fertility pattern, which is in line with Haldane's Rule, may facilitate interspecific gene flow between closely related species. The knowledge on hybrid geese should be used, in combination with the information available on hybridization in ducks, to study the process of avian speciation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalFrontiers in Zoology
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Anatidae
  • Behaviour
  • Captivity
  • Extra-pair copulations
  • Fertility
  • Hybridization
  • Introgression
  • Nest parasitism

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