The order Anseriformes (waterfowl) contains three families:

  • Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, Swans)
  • Anseranatidae (Magpie-Goose)
  • Anhimidae (Screamers)

Timetree of 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 (see Distribution code). Divergence times follow Kuhl et al. (2021). 


Timetree of 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 (see Distribution code).  Sometimes the whistling ducks are treated as as separate family, Dendrocygnidae (Sun et al., 2017, following Sibley & Ahlquist, 1990).  


Buckner, J.C., R. Ellingson., D.A. Gold, T.L. Jones and D.K. Jacobs (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., M.D. Sorenson, J.L. Peters, R.E. Wilson and K.G. McCracken (2010), Phylogenetic relationships of  Amazonatta, Speculanas, Lophonetta

and Tachyeres: four morphologically divergent duck genera endemic to South AmeriaJ. Avian Biol. 41, 186-199. (abstract)

Bulgarella, M., C. Kopuchian, A.S. di Giacomo, R. Matus, O.Blank, R.E. Wilson, and K.G. McCracken (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., V. Laudet, and C. Hanni (2002), A molecular phylogeny of Anseriformes based on mitochondrial DNA analysis, Mol. Phylogenet.

Evol. 23, 339-356. (abstract)

Gonzalez, J., H. Düttmann, and M. Wink (2009), Phylogenetic relationships based on two mitochondrial genes and hybridization patterns in AnatidaeJ.

Zool. 279, 310-318. (abstract)

Johnson, K.P., and M.D. Sorenson (1999), Phylogeny and biogeography of dabbling ducks (genus Anas): A comparison of molecular and morphological

evidence, Auk 116, 792-085. (pdf)

Kuhl, H., C. Frankl-Vilches, A. Bakker, G. Mayr, G. Nikolaus, S.T. Boerno, S. Klages, B. Timmermann, and M. Gahr (2021), An unbiased molecular approach

using 3'UTRs resolves the avian family-level tree of life, Mol. Biol. Evol. 38 (1), 108-127. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msaa191. (pdf)

Liu, G., L. Zhou, B. Li and L. Zhang (2014), The complete mitochondrial genome of Aix galericulata and Tadorna ferruginea: bearings on their phylogenetic

position in Anseriformes, PLoS ONE 9(11): e109701. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109701(pdf)

McCracken, K.G., J. Harschman, D.A. McClellan, and A.D. Afton (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)

Ottenburghs, J., H.-J. Meges, R.H.S. Kraus, O. Madsen, P. van Hooft, S.E. van Wieren, R.P.M.A. Crooijmans, R.C. Ydenberg, M.A.M. Groenen, and H.H.T.

Prins (2016), A tree of geese: a phylogenomic perspective on the evolutionary history of geeseMol. Phylogenet. Evol. 102, 74-85. (abstract)

Pointer, M.A., and N.I. Mundy (2008), Testing whether macroevolution follows microevolution: Are colour differences among swans (Cygnus)

attributable to variation at the MC1R locus?, BMC. Evol. Biol. 8, 249. (pdf)

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

Press. (pdf)

Prum, R.O., J.S. Berv, A. Dornburg, D.J. Field, J.P. Townsend, E.M. Lemmon and A.R. Lemmon (2015), A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using

targeted next-generation DNA sequencing, Nature 526, 569-57. (abstract)

Sorenson, M., A. Cooper, E.E. Paxinos, T.W. Quinn, H.F. James, S.L. Olson, and R.C. Fleischer (1999), Relationships of the extinct moa-nalos, flighless

Hawaiian waterfowl, based on ancient DNA, Proc. Royal Soc. B 266, 2187-2193. (pdf)

St. John, J., J.P. Cotter, and T.W. Quinn (2005), A recent chicken repeat 1 retrotransposition confirms the Coscoroba-Cape Barren Goose clade, Mol.

Phylogenet. Evol. 37, 83-90. (abstract)

Sun, Z., T. Pan, C. Hu, L. Sun, H. Ding, H. Wang, C. Zhang, H. Jin, Q. Chang, X. Kan and B. Zhang (2017), Rapid and recent diversification patterns in

Anseriformes birds: Inferred from molecular phylogeny and diversification patterns, PLOS ONE | September 11, 2017. (pdf)

Worthy, T.H., and S.L. Olson (2002), Relationships, adaptations, and habits of the extinct duck 'Euryanas' finschi, Notornis 49, 1-17. (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)