We used microsatellite DNA markers to genotype chicks in 10 broods of lek-breeding sage grouse, Centrocercus urophasianus, whose mothers’ behaviour was studied by radio-tracking and observing leks. Previous behavioural studies suggested that almost all matings are performed by territorial males on leks and that multiple mating is rare. Two broods (20%) were sired by more than one male. Genetic analyses of the broods of eight females that visited an intensively studied lek were consistent with behavioural observations. Four females observed mating produced singly sired broods and males other than the individual observed copulating were excluded as sires for most or all of their chicks. Territorial males at the study lek were excluded as sires of broods of four other females that visited the lek but were not observed mating there. Radio-tracking suggested that two of these females mated at other leks. Our results confirm the reliability of mating observations at leks, but do not rule out a possible unseen component of the mating system.
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