The order Anseriformes (waterfowl) contains three families:

  • Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans)
  • Anseranatidae (Magpie-Goose)
  • Anhimidae (screamers)

Family-level timetree of extant Anseriformes with the interfamilial relationhips being based on Prum et al. (2015). The distribution of each family is indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (Distribution code). Divergence times follow Kuhl et al. (2021). 


Genus-level timetree of extant Anatidae with subfamily interrelations (in particular the phylogenetic position of Oxyurinae) being based on Prum et al. (2015). The distribution of each genus is indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (Distribution code).  Sometimes the whistling ducks are treated as as separate family, Dendrocygnidae (Sun et al., 2017, following Sibley & Ahlquist, 1990). Relationships among Oxyurinae are largely based on Wuitchik et al. (2022). 


Buckner JC, Ellingson R, Gold DA, Jones TL, and Jacobs DK (2018), Mitogenomics supports an unexpected taxonomic relationship for the extinct diving duck Chendytes lawi and defintitively places the extinct Labrador Duck. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 122, 102-109. (abstract)

Bulgarella M, Sorenson MD, Peters JL, Wilson RE, and McCracken KG (2010), Phylogenetic relationships of  Amazonatta, Speculanas, Lophonetta and Tachyeres: four morphologically divergent duck genera endemic to South Ameria, J. Avian Biol. 41, 186-199. (abstract)

Bulgarella M, Kopuchian C, di Giacomo AS, Matus R, Blank O, Wilson RE, and McCracken KG (2014), Molecular phylogeny of the South American sheldgeese with implications for conservation of Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and continental populations of the Ruddy-headed Goose Chloephaga rubidiceps and Upland Goose C. picta, Bird Conserv. Internat. 224, 59-71. (pdf)

Donne-Goussé C, Laudet V, and Hanni C (2002), A molecular phylogeny of Anseriformes based on mitochondrial DNA analysis, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 23, 339-356. (abstract)

Gonzalez J, Düttmann H, and Wink M (2009), Phylogenetic relationships based on two mitochondrial genes and hybridization patterns in Anatidae. J. Zool. 279, 310-318.  (abstract)

Gregory SMS (2022), The introduction and correct typification of Oxyura Bonaparte, 1828, Avian Syst. 1, N9-N11. (pdf)

Huang Z, Yang C, and Ke D 2016), DNA barcoding and phylogenetic relationships in Anatidae, Mitochondrial DNA part A 27, 1042-44. (abstract)

Johnson KP, and Sorenson MD (1999), Phylogeny and biogeography of dabbling ducks (genus Anas): a comparison of molecular and morphological evidence, Auk 116, 792-085. (pdf)

Kuhl H, Frankl-Vilches C, Bakker A, Mayr G, Nikolaus G, Boerno ST, Klages S, Timmermann B, and Gahr M (2021), An unbiased molecular approach using 3'UTRs resolves the avian family-level tree of life, Mol. Biol. Evol. 38, 108-127. (pdf

Lavretsky P, Wilson RE, Talbot SL, and Sonsthagen SA (2021), Phylogenomics reveal ancient and contemporary gene flow contributing to the evolutionary history of sea ducks (Tribe Mergini), Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 161, e:107164. (abstract)

Liu G, Zhou L, Li B, and Zhang L (2014), The complete mitochondrial genome of Aix galericulata and Tadorna ferruginea: bearings on their phylogenetic position in Anseriformes, PLOS ONE 9, e:109701. (pdf)

McCracken KG, Harshman J, McClellan DA, and Afton AD (1999), Data set incongruence and correlated character evolution: an example of functional convergence in the hind-limbs of stifftail diving ducks, Syst. Biol. 48, 638-714. (pdf)

Musser G, and Clarke JA (2022), A new Paleogene fossil and a new dataset for waterfowl (Aves: Anseriformes) clarify phylogeny, ecological evolution, and avian evolution at the K-Pg Boundary, bioRxiv (pdf)

Ottenburghs J, Meges HJ, Kraus RHS, Madsen O, van Hooft P, van Wieren SE, Crooijmans RPMA, Ydenberg RC, Groenen MAM, and Prins HHT (2016), A tree of geese: a phylogenomic perspective on the evolutionary history of geese, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 102, 74-85. (abstract)

Pereira SL, and Baker AS (2009), Waterfowl and gamefowl, pp. 415-418 in The Timetree of Life, S.B. Hedges and S. Kumar (eds), Oxford University Press. (pdf)

Peters JL, McCracken KG, Zhuravlev YN, Lu Y, Wilson RE, Johnson KP, and Omland KE (2005), Phylogenetics of wigeons and allies (Anatidae: Anas): the importance of sampling multiple loci and multiple individuals, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 35, 209-224. (abstract)

Pointer MA, and Mundy NI (2008), Testing whether macroevolution follows microevolution: are colour differences among swans (Cygnus) attributable to variation at the MC1R locus?, BMC Evol. Biol. 8, e:249. (pdf)

Prum RO, Berv JS, Dornburg A, Field DJ, Townsend JP, Lemmon EM, and Lemmon AR (2015), A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using targeted next-generation DNA sequencing, Nature 526, 569-57. (abstract)

Sorenson M, Cooper A, Paxinos EE, Quinn TW, James HF, Olson SL, and Fleischer RC (1999), Relationships of the extinct moa-nalos, flighless Hawaiian waterfowl, based on ancient DNA, Proc. Royal Soc. B 266, 2187-93. (pdf)

St. John J, Cotter JP, and Quinn TW (2005), A recent chicken repeat 1 retrotransposition confirms the Coscoroba-Cape Barren Goose clade, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 37, 83-90. (abstract)

Sun Z, Pan T, Hu C, Sun L, Ding H, Wang H, Zhang C, Jin H, Chang Q, Kan X, and Zhang B (2017), Rapid and recent diversification patterns in Anseriformes birds inferred from molecular phylogeny and diversification patterns, PLOS ONE 12, e:0184529. (pdf)

Worthy TH, and Olson SL (2002), Relationships, adaptations, and habits of the extinct duck 'Euryanas' finschi, Notornis 49, 1-17. (pdf)

Wuitchik SJS, Hillier LW, Balakrishnan CN, Sorenson MD, Warren WC, and Sackton TB (2022) Patterns of lineage-specific genome evolution in the brood-parasitic black-headed duck (Heteronetta atricapilla), bioRxiv (pdf)

Zhang L, Xia T, Gao X, Yang X, Sun G, Zhao C, Liu G, and Zhang H (2022), Characterization and phylogenetic and phylogenetic analysis of the complete mitochondrial genome of Aythya marila, Genes 14, e:1204. (free pdf) 

Zhang Z, Ni Z, Li T, Ning M, Gao C, Hu J, Han M, Yang J, Wu F, Chen L, Lu L, Wu Z, Ai H, and Huang Y (2024), Nine high-quality Anas genomes provide new insights into Anas evolution and domestication, bioRxiv (pdf)

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

Fuegian Steamer Duck (Tachyeres pteneres), a flightless duck from the rocky coasts and islands of southern South America.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), Anatidae

King Eider (Somateria spectabilis), male, Anatidae (Foto: Carolin Pfeiffer)


White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata), (Foto: Mary Yalda)

Pair of Magellan Goose (Chloephaga picta), male to the left, female to the right, Anatidae

 Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis), male, Anatidae (Foto: Carolin Pfeiffer)