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Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers reveal extra-pair parentage in a bird species: the bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)

Authors

  • S Questiau,

    1. Laboratoire de Biologie des Populations d’Altitude (CNRS UMR 5553), Université Joseph Fourier, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble cedex 9, France,
    2. Laboratoire d’Evolution des Systèmes Naturels et Modifiés (CNRS UMR 6553), Université de Rennes I, Avenue du Général Leclerc, 35042 Rennes cedex, France
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  • M.-C Eybert,

    1. Laboratoire d’Evolution des Systèmes Naturels et Modifiés (CNRS UMR 6553), Université de Rennes I, Avenue du Général Leclerc, 35042 Rennes cedex, France
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  • P Taberlet

    1. Laboratoire de Biologie des Populations d’Altitude (CNRS UMR 5553), Université Joseph Fourier, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble cedex 9, France,
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Abstract

We tested the use of amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) to assess the frequency of extra-pair parentage in a bluethroat (Luscinia svecica namnetum) population. Thirty-six families totalling 162 nestlings were analysed. Using a combination of three primer pairs, we reached an exclusion probability of 93% for the population. This probability can reach 99% considering families independently. We revealed that extra-pair fertilizations are very common: 63.8% of all broods contain at least one extra-pair young, totalling 41.9% of all young analysed. However, with the technique and the three primer pairs used it was not possible to attribute the parentage exclusions to extra-pair paternity, maternity or both. As brood parasitism has never been reported in this species, it seems likely that the exclusions are due to extra-pair males. This study shows that dominant AFLP markers can be useful for studying the mating system of taxa for which no microsatellite primers are available. This technique allows the approximate estimation of parentage exclusions despite the fact that it is not possible to know which parent has to be excluded.

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