Published On: Sun, Mar 24th, 2013

Government spending critics point to $385K ‘duck penis study’ in Stimulus Bill as federal waste

The National Science Foundation may be taking some heat over a study on the “Sexual Conflict, Social Behavior and the Evolution of Waterfowl Genitalia” – aka ducks which is costing taxpayers nearly $385,000.

According the site recovery.gov a $384,949 grant to Yale University is genitalia of duck species. The grant description says,“The project examines how reproductive morphology covaries with season, age, and social environment in a diverse sample of duck species that differ in ecology, territoriality and breeding system.”

The grant was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package.

The project has been receiving money from the NSF since 2009 and is slated for funding through July of this year.

“In the last quarter, we have prepared a manuscript for submission on the results of the first two years of experiments on social phenotypic plasticity in duck penis length in Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Duck. Experiments continued on genital social phenotypic plasticity in Mandarin Duck and Laysan Teal,” a 2010 fourth quarter recovery.gov update on the study says.

Many duck penises are cork-screw shaped and some scientists believe this is because of a form of evolution known as “sexual conflict”.

Critics are calling for the project to be halted, the money to be cut from the budget. With sequester cuts effecting Thunderbirds and Blue Angel demonstrations, as well as other public functions, the federal spending issues are more and more scrutinized by the public.

Credits:   United States Government photo

Credits: United States Government photo

Below is the summary

Conflict between the sexes over control of fertilization is expected to be widespread among organisms, but its evolutionary consequences are still poorly understood particularly in vertebrate animals. Waterfowl have complex breeding systems that include female partner preferences based on elaborate male plumage and courtship display, and unsolicited reproductive attempts by males other than the female’s chosen partner. Female ducks show resistance behaviors and anatomies that have coevolved with male coercion. Ducks are ideally suited to study the evolution of sexual conflict and the evolution of reproductive structures. The project examines how reproductive morphology covaries with season, age, and social environment in a diverse sample of duck species that differ in ecology, territoriality and breeding system. Preliminary results of the project, suggest that male competition plays an important role in the evolution of waterfowl reproductive morphology, that male reproductive morphology is plastic depending on age . . . The complete abstract for this award is available in Research.gov at: www.research.gov.





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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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