Journal of Ethology

, 27:349 | Cite as

Extra-pair mate choice in the female great tit Parus major: good males or compatible males

  • Katsura M. KawanoEmail author
  • Noriyuki Yamaguchi
  • Eiiti Kasuya
  • Tetsukazu Yahara


The good genes hypothesis and the genetic compatibility hypothesis are the two main hypotheses that focus on the genetic benefit that a female can gain through her choice of a mate. We tested the two hypotheses on extra-pair mating in the great tit, Parus major. We found that female great tits choose males on the basis of breast stripe width, which is in accordance with the good genes hypothesis. Although females chose less related extra-pair males, the evidence for female choice for compatible males was overall weak. However, our data suggest a post-copulatory mechanism of inbreeding avoidance. The observed individual inbreeding coefficient, F, was similar for within-pair offspring (WPO) and extra-pair offspring (EPO). The observed individual F of WPO was lower than the expected individual F, whereas the observed F of EPO was similar to what was expected. These results highlight the importance of processes after copulation for the outcome of female mate choice. Our study shows that in a system with apparent pre-copulatory female choice for good genes, a post-copulatory mechanism may still promote the production of offspring that carry compatible genes.


Compatible genes Criterion of female choice Extra-pair mating Genetic similarity Good genes Relatedness 



We are indebted to the members of our laboratory for their encouragement. We especially thank O. K. Mikami for his comments on this manuscript. We also thank the staff of the Nature Reserve of Fukuoka City and the staff of the Wild Bird Society of Japan in Mt. Aburayama for their cooperation with our investigation in the field. English used in this manuscript was revised by Miss K. Miller (Royal English Language Center, Fukuoka, Japan).


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katsura M. Kawano
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Noriyuki Yamaguchi
    • 1
    • 3
  • Eiiti Kasuya
    • 1
  • Tetsukazu Yahara
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Faculty of SciencesKyushu UniversityFukuokaJapan
  2. 2.Civil Engineering and Eco-Technology Consultants Co., LtdTokyoJapan
  3. 3.School of Agriculture and Life SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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