Male mating success, reproductive success and multiple paternity in a natural population of sand lizards: behavioural and molecular genetics data


Annica Gullberg Fax: + 46-18-67-27-05


Sand lizard Lacerta agilis females characteristically mate with several males which, in staged mating experiments, results in multiple paternity of the offspring. In order to investigate multiple paternity in a natural population and interpret male reproductive behaviours in terms of sired young, we sampled the blood of females, potential fathers and hatchlings, and determined paternity using multilocus DNA fingerprinting as well as the variation at a single locus detected by the probe (TC)n. The paternity analyses were preceded by a laboratory experiment in which we established that the parental alleles identified by the single locus probe were inherited in a Mendelian way. Our molecular data demonstrated that 12 out of 13 males (92%) that sired offspring were correctly identified from the 56 sexually mature males in the population. Also smaller males were accepted as sexual partners by the females, but sired fewer young in competition with larger males and were less able to maintain prolonged post-copulatory mate guarding. This may result in that some sexually successful males are only observed inside a female's home range, but never in pair-association with the female.