Male (facing left) and female red-breasted mergansers Mergus serrator, copyright Mykola Swarnyk.

Belongs within: Anatinae.

The Mergini are a group of ducks primarily found in marine habitats. They are mostly found in temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere with the exception of the Brazilian merganser Mergus octosetaceus and the recently extinct New Zealand merganser M. australis. The mergansers of the genus Mergus have long, slender bills with a hooked tip and serrated edges, adapted for catching fish. The eiders of the genera Polysticta and Somateria, sometimes treated as a distinct tribe Somateriini, are found around the Arctic Ocean and are known for the dense down (eiderdown) they use for lining their nests.

<==Mergini [Merganserinae, Mergidia, Merginae]
    |  i. s.: Camptorhynchus labradorius CS77, CG99
    |--+--Clangula Leach 1819 BKB15, M02 [incl. Harelda Stephens 1824 B94; Clangulinae, Hareldinae]
    |  |    |--‘Harelda’ glacialis D56
    |  |    `--C. hyemalis (Linnaeus 1758) [=Anas hyemalis] CS77
    |  `--+--+--Histrionicus histrionicus (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, CS77 (see below for synonymy)
    |     |  `--Thambetochenini PJ02
    |     |       |--Chelychelynechen quassus PJ02
    |     |       |--Ptaiochen pau SC99
    |     |       `--Thambetochen BKB15
    |     |            |--T. chauliodous BKB15
    |     |            `--T. xanion SC99
    |     `--Somateriini [Somateriinae] CS77
    |          |--Polysticta Eyton 1836 BKB15, B94 [incl. Macropodus Nuttall 1834 B94]
    |          |    `--P. stelleri (Pallas 1769) [=Anas stelleri] CS77
    |          `--Somateria Leach 1819 BKB15, M02
    |               |  i. s.: S. stelleri RN72
    |               |--S. fischeri (Brandt 1847) BKB15, CS77 [=Fuligula fischeri CS77]
    |               `--+--S. mollissima (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, M02 (see below for synonymy)
    |                  |    |--S. m. mollissima CS77
    |                  |    |--S. m. borealis (Brehm 1824) CS77
    |                  |    |--S. m. dresseri Sharpe 1871 CS77
    |                  |    |--S. m. faeroeensis Brehm 1831 CS77
    |                  |    |--S. m. sedentaria Snyder 1941 CS77
    |                  |    `--S. m. v-nigrum Bonaparte 1855 CS77
    |                  `--S. spectabilis (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, CS77 [=Anas spectabilis CS77]
    `--+--Melanitta Boie 1822 BKB15, M02 [incl. Oidemia Flemming 1822 B94; Melanittinae, Oidemiinae]
       |    |--M. nigra (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, M02 [=Anas nigra M02]
       |    |    |--M. n. nigra CS77
       |    |    `--M. n. americana (Swainson 1832) CS77
       |    `--+--M. fusca (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, CS77 [=Anas fusca CS77, Oedemia fusca J63]
       |       |    |--M. f. fusca CS77
       |       |    |--M. f. deglandi (Bonaparte 1850) CS77
       |       |    |--M. f. dixoni RN72
       |       |    `--M. f. stejnegeri (Ridgway 1887) CS77
       |       `--M. perspicillata (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, CS77 [=Anas perspicillata CS77]
       `--+--Bucephala Baird 1858 BKB15, M02 [incl. Glaucionetta Stejneger 1885 B94; Glaucionettinae]
          |    |  i. s.: B. cereti Boeuf & Mourer-Chauviré 1992 M02
          |    |         B. ossivallis FP64
          |    |--B. albeola (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, CS77 [=Anas albeola CS77]
          |    `--+--B. clangula (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, M02 (see below for synonymy)
          |       |    |--B. c. clangula CS77
          |       |    `--B. c. americana (Bonaparte 1838) CS77
          |       `--B. islandica (Gmelin 1789) BKB15, CS77 [=Anas islandica CS77]
          `--+--Mergellus Selby 1840 BKB15, M02
             |    `--M. albellus (Linnaeus 1758) [=Mergus albellus] M02
             `--+--Lophodytes cucullatus BKB15
                `--Mergus Linnaeus 1758 BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
                     |  i. s.: M. australis Hombron & Jacquinot 1841 [=Merganser australis, *Promergus australis] CC10
                     |         M. connectens Jánossy 1972 M02
                     |         M. cucullatus Linnaeus 1758 CS77
                     |         M. minutus Linnaeus 1758 L58
                     |         M. octosetaceus JT12
                     |--M. serrator Linnaeus 1758 BKB15, M02 (see below for synonymy)
                     `--+--M. merganser Linnaeus 1758 BKB15, M02
                        |    |--M. m. merganser CS77
                        |    |--M. m. americanus Cassin 1852 CS77
                        |    `--M. m. comatus (Salvadori 1895) CS77
                        `--M. squamatus Gould 1864 BKB15, I92

Bucephala clangula (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, M02 [=Anas clangula M02, Glaucionetta clangula D56; incl. B. angustipes Jánossy 1965 M02]

Histrionicus histrionicus (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, CS77 [=Anas histrionica CS77; incl. H. histrionicus pacificus Brooks 1915 CS77]

Mergus Linnaeus 1758 BKB15, CC10 [=Merganser Brisson 1760 CC10; incl. Promergus Mathews & Iredale 1913 CC10]

Mergus serrator Linnaeus 1758 BKB15, M02 [incl. *Mergus castor CC10, *Merganser castor CC10, Mergus serrator schioleri CS77]

Somateria mollissima (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, M02 [=Anas mollissima M02; incl. S. gravipes Harrison 1979 M02]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1–281.

[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CG99] Carlton, J. T., J. B. Geller, M. L. Reaka-Kudla & E. A. Norse. 1999. Historical extinctions in the sea. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 30: 315–338.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[CS77] Cramp, S., & K. E. L. Simmons (eds) 1977. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palaearctic vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

[D56] Dawes, B. 1956. The Trematoda with special reference to British and other European forms. University Press: Cambridge.

[FP64] Fisher, J., & R. T. Peterson. 1964. The World of Birds: A comprehensive guide to general ornithology. Macdonald: London.

[I92] Iwahashi, J. (ed.) 1992. Reddo Deeta Animaruzu: a pictorial of Japanese fauna facing extinction. JICC: Tokyo.

[J63] Jánossy, D. 1963. Letztinterglaziale Vertebraten-Fauna aus der Kálmán Lambrecht-Höhle (Bükk-Gebirge, nordost-Ungarn) I. Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 9 (3–4): 293–331.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[L58] Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii: Holmiae.

[M02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

[PJ02] Paxinos, E. E., H. F. James, S. L. Olson, M. D. Sorenson, J. Jackson & R. C. Fleischer. 2002. mtDNA from fossils reveals a radiation of Hawaiian geese recently derived from the Canada goose (Branta canadensis). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 99: 1399–1404.

[RN72] Rutgers, A., & K. A. Norris (eds.) 1972. Encyclopaedia of Aviculture vol. 1. Blandford Press: London.

[SC99] Sorenson, M. D., A. Cooper, E. E. Paxinos, T. W. Quinn, H. F. James, S. L. Olson & R. C. Fleischer. 1999. Relationships of the extinct moa-nalos, flightless Hawaiian waterfowl, based on ancient DNA. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B—Biological Sciences 266: 2187–2193.

Last updated: 27 November 2021.

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