Extra-pair paternity in relation to male age in Bullock’s orioles

Authors

  • D. S. Richardson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biology, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
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      Present address: Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.

  • T. Burke

    1. Department of Biology, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
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      Present address: Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.


D. S. Richardson. Fax: + 44-(0)114-2220002; E-mail:David.Richardson@sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

Single-locus minisatellite DNA profiling was used to assign paternity in a population of Bullock’s orioles, Icterus galbula bullockii, and to determine the contribution of age to a male’s success in obtaining extra-pair paternity. There was a very low rate of intraspecific brood parasitism (2/202 = 1.0% of chicks). Older adult males lost less within-pair paternity and gained more extra-pair fertilizations than did yearling subadult males. This resulted in adult males benefiting from an annual reproductive success more than double that of subadult males. Behavioural observations, used to determine the role of female choice in extra-pair copulations (EPCs), indicated that females actively participate in EPCs and that they prefer to obtain them from older males. While it was possible that females obtained EPCs as an insurance against the possible infertility of their social mate, the results of this study fit best with the hypothesis that females were attempting to obtain better-quality genes for their offspring by obtaining EPCs with older, better-quality males.

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