Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 95–101

Low frequency of extra-pair paternity in pied flycatchers revealed by DNA fingerprinting

  • Jan T. Lifjeld
  • Tore Slagsvold
  • Helene M. Lampe


Genetic parentage of 135 nestlings from 27 broods of polygynous and monogamous pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca was analyzed by means of multilocus DNA fingerprinting. The minisatellite probe alpha-globin 3′HVR detected approximately 12 scorable bands per fingerprint, and the proportion of bands shared between presumably unrelated adults averaged 0.22+0.08 SD. The fingerprints of 125 of the 135 nestlings made a complete match to those of their putative parents. In 4 nestlings a single mismatched band occurred, but since band sharing with both putative parents was high, the single mismatches were assumed to be caused by mutation. The 6 remaining nestlings had 5 or more mismatched bands each, low band-sharing proportions with their putative father and high band-sharing proportions with their putative mother. We thus conclude that they were all sired through extra-pair copulations (EPCs). Hence, only 4% of nestlings were sired through EPCs, and none resulted from intraspecific brood parasitism. One of the cuckolding males was identified, explaining all 5 mismatched bands in the nestling's fingerprint. Three of the illegitimate nestlings were from primary nests of polygynous males; 3 were from nests of monogamous males. The fact that many males in this study started to advertise for a second female in a distant territory several days before their first mate began egglaying, and still managed to secure almost exclusive paternity in their first brood, suggests that male polyterritoriality is not costly in terms of lost paternity. Common anti-cuckoddry tactics performed by male birds, like high rate of within-pair copulation and continuous mate-guarding thoughout the female's fertilizable period, do not seem to be important in pied flycatchers.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan T. Lifjeld
    • 1
  • Tore Slagsvold
    • 1
  • Helene M. Lampe
    • 1
  1. 1.Zoological MuseumUniversity of OsloOslo 5Norway
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Division of ZoologyUniversity of OsloOslo 3Norway

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