Journal of Ornithology

, 151:247 | Cite as

Low or no occurrence of extra-pair paternity in the Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle

  • Tycho Anker-NilssenEmail author
  • Oddmund Kleven
  • Tomas Aarvak
  • Jan T. Lifjeld
Short Note


We investigated extra-pair paternity (EPP) among 46 young in 32 broods of 19 social pairs of Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle, using a combination of three polymorphic microsatellite markers. The analysis was based on blood samples collected over eight years from a population of individually colour-ringed birds in North Norway. All chicks shared an allele on all three loci with both social parents. Hence, there were no cases of extra-pair parentage. Given our sample sizes, the upper 95% confidence limit of EPP was estimated to 6.2% of the young and 8.9% of the broods. Among seven extra chicks, for which we lacked a DNA sample from the social mother, there was one case of genotype mismatch with the social father, but this could also be because of egg dumping. Low occurrence of EPP has now been documented in five of the six species of Atlantic auks.


Genetic paternity Microsatellites Alcidae Auks 



The study was carried out within the frame-work of a long-term project monitoring the population dynamics of various seabird species breeding in Røst, with financial support from the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research during the eight years of data collection. From 2005 this monitoring was integrated as a key-site study in the SEAPOP programme ( We thank Bjørn Berg, Christer Kamsvåg, Ivar Rimul, David Alan Showler, and Gisle Sæterhaug for assistance in the field, Roel May for statistical consultation, and two anonymous referees for constructive comments on the manuscript. The field work was carried out in accordance with the mandatory certification of FELASA category C researchers (TAN) and the appurtenant European Council guidelines for Laboratory Animal Science.


  1. Anker-Nilssen T (2006) The avifaunal value of the Lofoten Islands in a World Heritage perspective. NINA Report 201. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, TrondheimGoogle Scholar
  2. Anker-Nilssen T, Aarvak T (2006) Long-term studies of seabirds in the municipality of Røst, Nordland. Results with focus on 2004 and 2005. NINA Rapport 133. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, TrondheimGoogle Scholar
  3. Anker-Nilssen T, Barrett RT, Bustnes JO, Christensen-Dalsgaard S, Erikstad KE, Fauchald P, Lorentsen S–H, Steen H, Strøm H, Systad GH, Tveraa T (2008a) SEAPOP studies in the Barents and Norwegian Seas in 2007. NINA Report 363. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, TrondheimGoogle Scholar
  4. Anker-Nilssen T, Kleven O, Aarvak T, Lifjeld J (2008b) No evidence of extra-pair paternity in the Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica. Ibis 150:619–622CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Arnold KE, Owens IPF (2002) Extra-pair paternity and egg dumping in birds: life history, parental care and the risk of retaliation. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:1263–1269CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Asbirk S (1979) The adaptive significance of the reproductive pattern in the Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle. Vidensk Medd Dansk Naturhist Foren 141:29–80Google Scholar
  7. Barrett RT, Lorentsen S–H, Anker-Nilssen T (2006) The status of breeding seabirds in mainland Norway. Atlantic Seabirds 8:97–126Google Scholar
  8. Birkhead TR (1985) Coloniality and social behaviour in the Atlantic Alcidae. In: Nettleship DN, Birkhead TR (eds) The Atlantic Alcidae. The evolution, distribution and biology of the auks inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent water areas. Academic Press, London, pp 355–382Google Scholar
  9. Birkhead TR, Hatchwell BJ, Lindner R, Blomqvist D, Pellatt EJ, Griffith R, Lifjeld JT (2001) Extra-pair paternity in the Common Murre. Condor 103:158–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dawson DA, Hunter FM, Pandhal J, Buckland R, Parham A, Jones IL, Bradshaw M, Jehle R, Burke T (2005) Assessment of 17 new Whiskered Auklet (Aethia pygmaea) microsatellite loci in 42 seabirds identifies 5–15 polymorphic markers for each of nine Alcinae species. Mol Ecol Notes 5:289–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frederiksen M, Petersen A (1999) Adult survival of the Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle in Iceland. Condor 101:589–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Griffith SC, Owens IPF, Thuman KA (2002) Extrapair paternity in birds: a review of interspecific variation and adaptive function. Mol Ecol 11:2195–2212CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Griffiths R, Double MC, Orr K, Dawson RJG (1998) A DNA test to sex most birds. Mol Ecol 7:1071–1075CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Harris MP, Birkhead TR (1985) Breeding ecology of the Atlantic Alcidae. In: Nettleship DN, Birkhead TR (eds) The Atlantic Alcidae. The evolution, distribution and biology of the auks inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent water areas. Academic Press, London, pp 155–204Google Scholar
  15. Hudson PJ (1985) Population parameters for the Atlantic Alcidae. In: Nettleship DN, Birkhead TR (eds) The Atlantic Alcidae. The evolution, distribution and biology of the auks inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent water areas. Academic Press, London, pp 233–261Google Scholar
  16. Ibarguchi G, Gissing GJ, Gaston AJ, Boag PT, Friesen VL (2004) Male-biased mutation rates and the overestimation of extrapair paternity: problem, solution, and illustration using Thick-billed Murres (Uria lomvia, Alcidae). J Hered 95:209–216CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Kalinowski ST, Taper ML, Marshall TC (2007) Revising how the computer program CERVUS accommodates genotyping error increases success in paternity assignment. Mol Ecol 16:1099–1106CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Lifjeld JT, Harding AMA, Mehlum F, Øigarden T (2005) No evidence of extra-pair paternity in the Little Auk Alle alle. J Avian Biol 36:484–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lifjeld JT, Laskemoen T, Fossøy F, Johnsen A, Kleven O (2007) Functional infertility among territorial males in two passerine species, the willow warbler Phylloscopus trochilus and the bluethroat Luscinia svecica. J Avian Biol 38:267–272Google Scholar
  20. Rohlf FJ, Sokal RR (1981) Statistical tables, 2nd edn. Freeman, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  21. Seutin G, White BN, Boag PT (1991) Preservation of avian blood and tissue samples for DNA analyses. Can J Zool 69:82–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wagner RH (1992) Extra-pair copulations in a lek: the secondary mating system of monogamous razorbills. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 31:63–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Westneat DF, Stewart IRK (2003) Extra-pair paternity in birds: causes, correlates, and conflict. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 34:365–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wojczulanis-Jakubas K, Jakubas D, Øigarden T, Lifjeld JT (2009) Extra-pair copulations are frequent but unsuccessful in a highly colonial seabird, the little auk Alle alle. Anim Behav 17:433–438CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tycho Anker-Nilssen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Oddmund Kleven
    • 2
  • Tomas Aarvak
    • 1
  • Jan T. Lifjeld
    • 2
  1. 1.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.National Centre for Biosystematics, Natural History MuseumUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations