Journal für Ornithologie

, Volume 144, Issue 1, pp 86–92 | Cite as

Mate fidelity in a population of Island Canaries (Serinus canaria) in the Madeiran Archipelago

  • Cornelia Voigt
  • Stefan Leitner
  • Manfred Gahr


Previous studies have shown that extra-pair paternity occurs less frequently in island populations than in mainland populations. This is thought to be due mainly to the low genetic variability in island populations but non-genetic factors have also been discussed. Here we report the results of a parentage analysis in a population of island canaries (Serinus canaria) on a small uninhabited island in the Madeiran archipelago. Island canaries are socially monogamous, non-migratory seasonal breeders where biparental care is essential for offspring survival. Multilocus DNA-fingerprinting provided no evidence of extra-pair-paternity in 15 families comprising 45 juveniles. The band sharing coefficient for presumably unrelated breeding pairs was low (0.17 ± 0.03), an indication that genetic variability within the population is similar to most non-island populations of other species. Females did not seek extra-pair copulations and actively rejected sexual approaches from males other than their mate. We propose that female island canaries assess the quality of males during a perid outside the breeding season and optimise their mate choice according to learned preferences.


songbird Serinus canaria island population genetic monogamy DNA fingerprinting 

Partnertreue bei einer Population von Kanarengirlitzen (Serinus canaria) im Madeira-Archipel


Vorangegangene Untersuchungen haben gezeigt, dass Vaterschaften außerhalb des Paarbundes bei Inselpopulationen weniger häufig vorkommen als bei Festlandpopulationen. Dieses Phänomen wird hauptsächlich mit der bei Inselpopulationen auftretenden geringeren genetischen Variabilität begründet, aber auch nicht-genetische Faktoren werden diskutiert. Wir stellen in der vorliegenden Studie die Ergebnisse einer Vaterschaftsanalyse in einer Kanarengirlitz-Population auf einer kleinen, unbewohnten Insel im Madeira-Archipel vor. Kanarengirlitze sind sozial monogame Standvögel, die saisonal brüten. Die Brutpflege beider Eltern ist entscheidend für das überleben der Jungvögel. Multilocus-DNA-Fingerprinting ergab keinen Fall von Vaterschaften außerhalb des Paarbundes in 15 untersuchten Familien mit insgesamt 45 Jungvögeln. Der Anteil gemeinsamer Banden zwischen den unverwandten Elterntieren war niedrig (0.17 ± 0.03, Mittelwert ± s. d.), was darauf hindeutet, dass die genetische Variabilität dieser Population ähnlich der von Festlandpopulationen anderer Arten ist. Es konnte kein Fall beobachtet werden, in dem Weibchen Kopulationen mit fremden Männchen zu erlangen versuchten. Vielmehr verweigerten sie aktiv Kopulationsversuche fremder Männchen. Wir schlagen vor, dass die Kanarengirlitz-Weibchen die Zeit außerhalb der Brutzeit nutzen, um die Qualität der Männchen festzustellen und anhand gelernter Präferenzen ihre Partnerwahl optimieren.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Beguin, N., Leboucher, G. & Kreutzer, M. (1998): Sexual preferences for mate song in female canaries (Serinus canaria). Behaviour 135: 1185–1196.Google Scholar
  2. Birkhead, T. R. & Møller, A. P (1996): Monogamy and sperm competition in birds. In: Black, J. M. (Ed.): Partnerships in birds: The study of Monogamy, pp. 323–343. Oxford.Google Scholar
  3. Birkhead, T. R., Burke, T., Zann, R., Hunter, F. M. & Krupa, A. P. (1990): Extra-pair paternity and intraspecific brood parasitism in wild zebra finchesTaeniopygia guttata, revealed by DNA fingerprinting. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 27: 315–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Burke, T. & Bruford, M. W. (1987): DNA fingerprinting in birds. Nature 327: 149–152.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burke, T., Davies, N. B., Bruford, M. W. & Hatchwell, B. J. (1989): Parental care and mating behavior of polyandrous dunnocks Prunella modularis related to paternity by DNA fingerprinting. Nature 338: 249–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cate, C. ten & Vos, D. R. (1999): Sexual imprinting and evolutionary processes in birds: a reassessment. Adv. Stud. Behav. 28: 1–31.Google Scholar
  7. Depraz, V., Leboucher, G. & Kreutzer, M. (2000): Early tutoring and adult reproductive behaviour in female domestic canary (Serinus canaria). Anim. Cogn 3: 45–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Epplen, J. T. (1992): The methodology of multilocus DNA fingerprinting using radioactive or nonradioactive oligonucleotide probes specific for simple repeat motifs. In: Chrambach, A., Dunn, M. J. & Radola, B. J. (eds.) Advances in electrophoresis, Vol. 5: 59–112. Weinheim.Google Scholar
  9. Gilbert, L., Burke, T. & Krupa, A. (1998): No evidence for extra-paternity in the western gull. Mol. Ecol. 7: 1549–1552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gowaty, P. A. (1996a): Field studies of parental care in birds. In: Rosenblatt, J. S. & Snowdon, C. T. (Eds.): Advances in the study of behaviour, Vol. 25: 477–531. San Diego.Google Scholar
  11. Gowaty, P. A. (1996b): Battles of the sexes and origins of monogamy. In: Black, J. M. (Ed.): Partnerships in birds: The study of Monogamy, pp. 21–52. Oxford.Google Scholar
  12. Griffith, S. C. (2000): High fidelity on islands: a comparative study of extrapair paternity in passerine birds. Behav. Ecol. 11: 265–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Griffith, S. C., Stewart, I. R. K., Dawson, D. A., Owens, I. P. F. & Burke, T. (1999): Contrasting levels of extra-pair paternity in mainland and island populations of the house sparrow (Passer domesticus): is there an ‘island effect’? Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 68: 303–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gyllensten, U. B., Jakobsson, S. & Temrin, H. (1990): No evidence for illegitimate young in monogamous and polygynous warblers. Nature 343: 168–170.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Haggerty, T. M., Morton, E. S. & Fleischer, R. C. (2001): Genetic monogamy in Carolina wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus). Auk 118: 215–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hunter, F. M., Burke, T. & Watts, S. E. (1992): Frequent copulations as a method of paternity assurance in the Northern fulmar. Anim. Behav. 44: 149–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jeffreys, A. J., Wilson, V. and Thein, S. L. (1985): Hypervariable ‘minisatellite’ regions in human DNA. Nature 357: 494–496.Google Scholar
  18. Kempenaers, B. (1993): The use of a breeding synchrony index. Ornis Scand. 24: 84.Google Scholar
  19. Lack, D. (1968): Ecological adaptations for breeding in birds. London.Google Scholar
  20. Leitner, S., Voigt, C. & Gahr, M. (2001): Seasonal changes in the song pattern of the non-domesticated island canary (Serinus canaria), a field study. Behaviour 138: 885–904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mauck, R. A., Waite, T. A. & Parker, P. G. (1995): Monogamy in Leach’s Storm-Petrel. DNA fingerprinting evidence. Auk 112: 473–482.Google Scholar
  22. Müller, W., Epplen, J. T. & Lubjuhn, T. (2001): Genetic paternity analyses in Little Owls (Athene noctua): does the high rate of paternal care select against extra-pair young? J. Ornithol. 142: 195–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mulder, R. A., Dunn, P. O., Cockburn, A., Lazenby-Cohen, K. A. & Howell, M. J. (1994): Helpers liberate female fairy-wrens from constraints on extra-pair mate choice. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 255: 223–229.Google Scholar
  24. Nagle, L. & Kreutzer, M. (1997): Song tutoring influences female song preferences in domesticated canaries. Behaviour 134: 89–104.Google Scholar
  25. Petrie, M., Doums, C. & Moller, A. P. (1998): The degree of extra-pair paternity increases with genetic variability. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95: 9390–9395.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Petrie, M. & Kempenaers, B. (1998): Extra-pair paternity in birds: explaining variation between species and populations. Trends Ecol. Evol. 13: 52–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pinxten, R., Hanotte, O., Eens, M., Verheyen, R. F., Dhondt, A. A. & Burke, T. (1993): Extra-pair paternity and intraspecific brood parasitism in the European starling,Sturnus vulgaris: evidence from DNA fingerprinting. Anim. Behav. 45: 795–809.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Quillfeldt, P., Schmoll, T., Peter, H. U., Epplen, J. T. & Lubjuhn T., (2001): Genetic monogamy in Wilson’s storm-petrel. Auk 118: 242–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sambrook, J., Fritsch, E. E & Maniatis, T. (1989): Molecular cloning: a laboratory manual. Cold Spring Harbor.Google Scholar
  30. Seutin, G., White, B. N. & Boag, P. T. (1991): Preservation of avian blood and tissue samples for DNA analyses. Can. J. Zool. 69: 82–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Slagsvold, T. & Lifjeld, J. T. (1997): Incomplete female knowledge of male quality may explain variation in extra-pair paternity in birds. Behaviour 134: 353–371.Google Scholar
  32. Stutchbury, B. J. & Morton, E. S. (1995): The effect of breeding synchrony on extra-pair mating systems in songbirds. Behaviour 132: 675–690.Google Scholar
  33. Swatschek, L., Ristow, D., Scharlau, W., Wink, C. & Wink, M. (1993): Populationsgenetik beim Eleonorenfalken (Falco eleonorae). J. Ornithol. 134: 137–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Verhulst, S. & van Eck, H. M. (1996): Gene flow and immigration rate in an island population of great tits. J. Evol. Biol. 9: 771–782.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Voigt, C. & Leitner, S. (1998): Breeding biology of the island canarySerinus canaria (AVES: Fringillidae) on the Desertas island Ilhéu Chão. Bol. Mus. Mun. Funchal 50: 117–124.Google Scholar
  36. Westneat, D. F. (1990): Genetic parentage in the indigo bunting: a study using DNA fingerprinting. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 27: 67–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Westneat, D. F. & Sherman, P. W. (1997): Density and extra-pair fertilisations in birds: a comparative analysis. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 41: 205–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Westneat, D. F., Sherman, P. W. & Morton, M. L. (1990): The ecology and evolution of extra-pair copulations in birds. Curr. Ornithol. 7: 331–369.Google Scholar
  39. Wetton, J. H., Carter, R. E., Parkin, D. T. & Walters, D. (1987): Demographic study of a wild House Sparrow population by DNA fingerprinting. Nature 327: 147–149.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Deutsche Ornithologen-Gesellschaft/Blackwell Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cornelia Voigt
    • 1
  • Stefan Leitner
    • 1
  • Manfred Gahr
    • 2
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für VerhaltensphysiologieSeewiesenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Developmental Neurobiology, Faculty of BiologyVrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations