Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 67, Issue 6, pp 963–972 | Cite as

Evolution of extreme-mating behaviour: patterns of extrapair paternity in a species with forced extrapair copulation

  • Patricia Brekke
  • Phillip Cassey
  • Cristina Ariani
  • John G. Ewen
Original Paper


Sexual conflict can result in the evolution of extreme mating strategies, including forced copulation. Forced extrapair copulation (FEPC) is generally rare among birds, but is common in re-introduced populations of the hihi (Notiomystis cincta), a socially monogamous, New Zealand endemic, endangered passerine. The aim of this study was to understand the patterns of extrapair paternity in a population where the majority of EPC is forced and to examine the factors, in particular female-specific, influencing the proportion of offspring fathered by extrapair males (EPP—extrapair paternity) and the number of males siring extrapair offspring within a brood (EPM) in this species. Using 8 years of comprehensive paternity, life-history and demographic information for 485 breeding attempts, we show that the frequency of EPP is dependent on (1) social male and female age, (2) the month the female fledged, (3) breeding density and (4) whether it was their first or second reproductive event of the season. In addition, we show that both EPP and EPM are negatively associated with breeding synchrony and clutch size is the most important predictor of EPM. Understanding the drivers of EPP and EPM in species with FECP is important because these are strong determinants of variance in reproductive success and the maintenance of extreme mating behaviour.


Ageing Hihi Notiomystis cincta Inbreeding Mating tactics Promiscuity Synchrony 



We are grateful to the continuing support of New Zealand’s Department of Conservation and Hihi Recovery Group. We also thank Leila Walker for help with field work. Valuable comments on the manuscript were provided by T. R. Birkhead, P. Brennan and an anonymous reviewer. This work was supported by an AXA Fellowship grant to PB. A Leverhulme Trust Research Grant and NERC MGF Grant to JGE. JGE is supported by a RCUK Fellowship. PC is an ARC Future Fellow (FT0991420).

Conflict of interest


Ethical standards

All sampling reported in this article comply with the current laws of New Zealand, the country in which they were performed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Brekke
    • 1
  • Phillip Cassey
    • 2
  • Cristina Ariani
    • 3
  • John G. Ewen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyZoological Society of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Department of GeneticsUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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