Extra-pair paternity in monogamous and polygynous Savannah sparrows

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Extra-pair paternity can influence mating systems by affecting the fitness costs associated with polygyny. Polygyny is disadvantageous to males when the time and energetic demands of multiple pairings decrease either a male's success at gaining extra-pair fertilizations or his ability to ensure paternity among harem members. In Savannah sparrows,Passerculus sandwichensison Kent Island, New Brunswick, Canada, multilocus DNA fingerprinting of 136 adults and young revealed substantial female infidelity: overall, 31 of 92 young (33.7%) in 15 of 24 nests (62.5%) were the product of extra-pair fertilizations. Male mating status was a strong predictor of paternity. Each of seven monogamous females produced at least one extra-pair offspring, but only six of 11 primary females (54.5%) and two of six secondary females (33.3%) were unfaithful. As a result, nearly 80% of the young in nests of polygynous males resulted from within-pair fertilizations, compared with only 40% of the young in nests of monogamous males. Kent Island Savannah sparrows are simultaneously polygynous, and the absence of paternity costs associated with polygyny is surprising. The observed pattern of paternity suggests the operation of female choice, although male control of parentage cannot be excluded. Extra-pair paternity in monogamous and polygynous Savannah sparrows, Passerculus sandwichensis - ResearchGate. Available from: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/248591455_Extra-pair_paternity_in_monogamous_and_polygynous_Savannah_sparrows_Passerculus_sandwichensis [accessed Sep 30, 2015].

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Animal Behaviour