No evidence for extrapair fertilizations in the merlin revealed by DNA fingerprinting


  • This paper resulted from a collaboration between two research groups. David Parkin, Jon Wetton, Roy Carter and Alistair Curzon use molecular genetic tools to examine animal populations, particularly those of avian species. Lynn Oliphant, Paul James and Ian Warketkin are studying the factors that control life time reproductive success in birds of prey through their long-term study of population dynamics in urban-breeding merlins.

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Broods of young merlins were compared with the adults in attendance at their nest by DNA fingerprinting. No offspring were found that mismatched genetically suggesting that intraspecific brood parasitism and extrapair fertilization are very rare in this population. The results are discussed in the light of the Paternity Assurance Hypothesis.