The Chatham duck (Pachyanas chathamica) represented one of just three modern bird genera endemic to the Chatham archipelago (situated ~850. km east of New Zealand) but became extinct soon after humans first settled the islands (c. 13th-15th centuries AD). The taxonomic affinity of the Chatham duck remains largely unresolved; previous studies have tentatively suggested placements within both Tadornini (shelducks) and Anatini (dabbling ducks). Herein, we sequence a partial mitochondrial genome (excluding the D-loop) from the Chatham duck and discover that it was a phenotypically-divergent species within the genus Anas (Anatini). This conclusion is further supported by a re-examination of osteological characters. Our molecular analyses convincingly demonstrate that the Chatham duck is the most basal member of a sub-clade comprising the New Zealand and sub-Antarctic brown teals (the brown teal [. A. chlorotis], Auckland Island teal [. A. aucklandica] and Campbell Island teal [. A. nesiotis]). Molecular clock calculations based on an ingroup fossil calibration support a divergence between the Chatham duck and its sister-taxa that is consistent with the estimated time of emergence of the Chatham Islands. Additionally, we find that mtDNA divergence between the two sub-Antarctic teal species (. A. aucklandica and A. nesiotis) significantly pre-dates the last few glacial cycles, raising interesting questions about the timing of their dispersal to these islands, and the recent phylogeographic history of brown teal lineages in the region.
- Ancient DNA
- Chatham Islands