Female-Biased Philopatry, Monogamy, and the Timing of Pair Formation in Migratory Waterfowl

  • Frank C. Rohwer
  • Michael G. Anderson
Part of the Current Ornithology book series (CUOR, volume 5)


Waterfowl (family Anatidae) provide several exceptions to more typical avian breeding systems. One exception is their system of parental care, wherein highly precocial young secure their own food. This pattern of development has had important consequences for mating systems in waterfowl. The relative independence of young has resulted in the liberation of males from parental care in most migratory ducks. Theory suggests that such emancipation would lead to polygynous mating systems (Lack, 1968; Orians, 1969). Thus, it is somewhat surprising that there are few exceptions to monogamy in the waterfowl (exceptions: Frith and Davies, 1961; Pitman, 1965; Johnsgard, 1966; Siegfried, 1979). Another surprising character in monogamous pairing waterfowl is that many ducks pair 6 months prior to breeding, yet these pair bonds only last for a single breeding season. Finally, the Anatidae appear to be the only group of birds with greater female philopatry than male philopatry. We suspect that monogamy, early pairing, and female-biased philopatry in migratory ducks, geese, and swans ultimately relate to the system of parental care exhibited by wildfowl.


Parental Care Pair Bond Brood Care Snow Goose Canada Goose 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank C. Rohwer
    • 1
  • Michael G. Anderson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Delta Waterfowl and Wetlands Research StationManitobaCanada

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