Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 146, Issue 2, pp 99–102 | Cite as

Extra-pair young despite strong pair bonds in the European Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)

  • Gernot SegelbacherEmail author
  • Daniela Kabisch
  • Michael Stauss
  • Jürgen Tomiuk
Original Article


We choose the European Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), an extremely socially monogamous passerine species, to investigate the breeding biology and frequency of extra-pair activities of females. Breeding individuals live in strong pair bonds for their total life and defend their territory all year round. As a consequence of these narrow social bonds, nuthatches have to date been considered extremely sexually monogamous. Our genetic study, however, reveals a minimum of 10% of extra-pair young in 188 chicks from 32 broods in populations of southwestern Germany. Independently of the habitat type (high via low quality), most of extra-pair sires are identified as neighbouring territory holders.


Extra-pair fertilization Habitat effect Neighbouring effect Social monogamy 



We thank Simon Griffith and Julia Day and several reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gernot Segelbacher
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniela Kabisch
    • 2
  • Michael Stauss
    • 2
  • Jürgen Tomiuk
    • 2
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institute for OrnithologyRadolfzellGermany
  2. 2.Section of General Human Genetics, Institute of Anthropology and Human GeneticsUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany

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