Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 152, Issue 2, pp 291–295 | Cite as

Molecular evidence for extra-pair paternity and intraspecific brood parasitism in the Black-headed Gull

  • Radka Ležalová-Piálková
Original Article


Social monogamy is common among birds, while genetic monogamy is supposed to be rare. I have investigated the genetic mating system of the Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus in which, as in seabirds and most other long-lived and socially monogamous birds, extra-pair paternity (EPP) is typically rather infrequent. The parentage of 79 chicks from 30 broods was determined based on the analysis of six microsatellite markers. In this study population, evidence of allelic inconsistencies between putative parents and chicks as a result of both EPP and intraspecific brood parasitism (ISBP) was found in 43% of nests . Extra-pair paternity was detected in 33% (10/30) of broods, and 20% (16/79) of all nestlings were sired by extra-pair males. In addition, 9% (7/79) of chicks out of five nests (17%) were not the offspring of either member of the pair, indicating ISBP. These findings reveal a moderate rate of ISBP and a high rate of EPP in the Black-headed Gull compared with other related species and shows that the Black-headed Gulls successfully participate in extra-pair copulations.


Black-headed Gull Genetic mating system Extra-pair paternity Intraspecific brood parasitism Larus ridibundus 


Soziale Monogamie ist bei Vögeln weitverbreitet, während genetische Monogamie vermutlich selten ist. Ich habe das genetische Paarungssystem der Lachmöwe Larus ridibundus untersucht, bei der, wie bei Seevögeln und den meisten anderen langlebigen und sozial monogamen Vögeln, Fremdvaterschaft (EPP) normalerweise eher selten ist. Die Elternschaft wurde mittels sechs Mikrosatellitenmarkern für 79 Küken aus 30 Bruten ermittelt. In der untersuchten Population fand ich Belege für Allelinkonsistenzen zwischen Putativeltern und Küken in 43% der Nester, was sowohl auf EPP als auch auf intraspezifischen Brutparasitismus (ISBP) zurückzuführen war. Fremdvaterschaft wurde in 33% (10/30) der Bruten nachgewiesen, und 20% (16/79) aller Nestlinge wurden von Fremdvätern gezeugt. Außerdem stammten 9% (7/79) der Küken aus fünf Nestern (17%) weder von der Mutter noch vom Vater ab, was auf ISBP hindeutet. Diese Ergebnisse lassen eine im Vergleich zu anderen verwandten Arten mittlere ISBP-Rate und eine hohe EPP-Rate erkennen und zeigen, dass Lachmöwen erfolgreich Kopulationen außerhalb des Paarbundes eingehen.



This research was funded by GAJU 51/2003/P-BF and MSM 6007665801 grants and was also supported by GAČR 206/05/H012. This study was carried out under permission 2KCDW 28/0/2003 and in accordance with the laws and ethical guidelines of the Czech Republic. I thank M. Honza for field assistance, J. Bryja for advice in the laboratory, D. Hardekopf for English corrections, and anonymous referees for valuable comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of South BohemiaČeské BudějoviceCzech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of Vertebrate BiologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicBrnoCzech Republic

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