Scoter vocalizations may have a role in pair formation and pair bonding. I compared the courtship calls of male Black Scoters (Melanitta nigra nigra and M. n. americana) using published and archived recordings. Courtship calls of the two subspecies differed diagnosably in duration. In contrast, recordings from different localities within the ranges of each taxon showed no diagnosable differentiation. This finding represents the first indication these taxa differ in characters other than bill morphology and supports recent proposals to treat M. n. americana as a distinct species (M. americana). Vocal displays, in contrast to courtship displays, of anatids have not been used for assessment of species limits in Anatidae. My results indicate vocalizations are a potentially useful additional character in species-level taxonomy of anatids.
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