Can Stray Golf Balls Influence Duck Evolution?

An evolutionary perspective on ducks getting hit by golf balls. Fore!

Have a look at the video in the following link:

http://www.golf.com/extra-spin/2017/05/10/watch-man-hits-kills-duck-drive-tpc-sawgrass

You can see how a golfer tees off and hits an unsuspecting duck clean out of the air. From an evolutionary point of view, this raises the question whether stray golf balls could influence the evolution of ducks. Evolution mainly operates through natural selection, that is differential survival (and reproduction) of individuals. For example, if bigger individuals have a higher chance of survival, they will produce more offspring, and the next generation will exhibit a marked increase in size (given that offspring inherit the large size from their parents).

So, could stray golf balls provide a new selection pressure in duck evolution? Probably not, because the chance of getting hit by a golf ball is too low to have any significant effect on the duck population. Hitting a duck with a golf ball can be regarded as a random event. Somewhat similar to the process of genetic drift where some genetic variants increase or decrease in frequency at random. Here, the duck has been randomly removed from the gene pool by a golf ball. This accident may be dubbed ‘genetic drive’ (the golfer performed a so-called drive: the long distance shot played from the tee box).

I do wonder if this swing also counts as a birdie

'Birdie.'

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