Sexual size dimorphism of the musk duck

K. G. McCracken, D. C. Paton, A. D. Afton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We examined sexual size dimorphism of a lek-displaying diving duck from Australia, the Musk Duck (Biziura lobata). Like other lek-displaying species, Musk Ducks exhibit extreme sexual size dimorphism in addition to structural dimorphism. Body mass ratios (male:female) for Musk Ducks are among the highest reported for birds (more than 3:1). Multivariate analyses of 16 anatomical measurements indicated that body plans of male and female Musk Ducks have diverged isometrically except for the addition of a pendant lobe on lower mandibles of males. Within males, pendant lobe length, depth, and breadth were positively correlated with center rectrix length and bill width. Lobe area also was positively related to bill width, but not to center rectrix length. Lobe breadth and center rectrix length were positively related to overall body mass. Our results suggested that information about male physical quality may be conveyed to other Musk Ducks by parts of the anatomy most conspicuously exposed during sexual advertising displays. In contrast, anatomical features that function in foraging activity showed no sexual differences in anatomical shape relative to other parts of the anatomy that do not serve obvious foraging functions. We argue that foraging niche divergence or use of different food resources, if they have occurred, probably are secondary consequences of sexual size dimorphism. Received 28 March 2000, accepted 18 August 2000.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-466
Number of pages10
JournalWilson Bulletin
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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