Nature: What Ducks Want and Drakes Will Do

April 12th, 2008

Thirteen blogger: Irene Tejaratchi, Nature producer

The variety of mating behaviors found in nature are plentiful, and it’d be foolhardy to think there’s one sure-shot way to succeed in the seduction game–what works for one species may not work for another. Actually, the behaviors of the cast of characters in Nature’s “What Females Want and Males Will Do” are so varied and dazzling they might distract viewers from some of the subtler themes in the show. So I thought I’d point out a couple of my observations here:

Brennan, assistant and duck.

Last year, while “What Females Want and Males Will Do” was in still in production, news broke out about groundbreaking research being conducted by biologist Patricia Brennan on the sexual anatomy/behavior of certain duck species. Naturally Brennan had to be featured in the show! Without giving much away (tune in on Sunday for the racy details), I will say that Brennan decided, instead of focusing solely on male duck anatomy as other researchers had previously done, she was going to research the females’. The results have led to an unprecedented, fascinating understanding of how some female duck species may be involved in the mating process.

What intrigues me about this particular segment of “What Females Want and What Males Will Do” is not only the research but the more subtle notion that scientific research is not always exhaustive, and can be limited by the predilections of researchers. It took Brennan to come along and research the neglected half of a very complicated equation.