Clark's Grebe

Aechmophorus clarkii

  • Version: 2.0 — Published January 1, 1992
  • Robert W. Storer and Gary L. Nuechterlein

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The Introduction Article is just the first of 11 articles in each species account that provide life history information for the species. The remaining articles provide detailed information regarding distribution, migration, habitat, diet, sounds, behavior, breeding, current population status and conservation. Each species account also includes a multimedia section that displays the latest photos, audio selections and videos from Macaulay Library’s extensive galleries. Written and continually updated by acknowledged experts on each species, Birds of North America accounts include a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.

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Figure 1. Distribution of Clark's Grebe.

Breeding occurs in widely scattered suitable bodies of water within this area.

Adult Clark's Grebe; Oregon, September

Clark's Grebe, breeding (Def. Alternate) plumage; Klamath Lake, Oregon, September 2004.; photographer Gerrit Vyn

Editor’s Note (August 2016): Maps, rich media, and text have been updated to reflect a taxonomic change/split for this species. This species account is still being edited and may contain content from an earlier version of the account.  

Clark's Grebe closely resembles the Western Grebe and was long considered a color morph of it. The nomenclatural history of the two is included in the introduction to the Western Grebe. Evidence for the renewed specific status of Clark's Grebe began with finding that Western (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark's grebes mated assortatively (Storer 1965). A detailed study of the relationships between the two species was made by Ratti (Ratti 1979), who also provided material for an analysis of DNA-DNA hybridization (Ahlquist et al. 1987). This analysis indicated that the median DNA sequence distance between the species was “comparable to such distances between other closely related congeneric species,” although it was less than the distance between the pair subspecies on their table. Nuechterlein (Nuechterlein 1981c) demonstrated that a difference in the number of notes in the Advertising call was important in reproductive isolation of the two species.

Because the two species were not separated in the earlier literature, the accounts covering both species are given in the biography of the Western Grebe. Only accounts applying to Clark's Grebe and to observed differences between the species are given here.

Recommended Citation

Storer, R. W. and G. L. Nuechterlein (1992). Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole, P. R. Stettenheim, and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.