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