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Abstract

Much attention has been paid to the polyterritorial mating system of some passerine birds. Here we report how a male's mating success is related to the behavioral traits of polyterritorial pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) males. We found no evidence that the timing of polyterritoriality in relation to egg laying in the primary nest or the singing behavior of males have any influence on mating success. However, results show clearly that male mating success was improved with an increase in the distance between territories up to a distance of about 200–300 m whereupon there was no further enhancement of mating success. This finding is crucial for both the deception hypothesis and female-female aggression hypothesis which have been put forward to explain polyterritorial polygyny. Males who establish a distant second territory seemed to allocate more time to singing there. The association, although weak, between singing activity and distance between territories makes it more difficult for females to use song rate as a cue to discriminate males with a secondary territory far from the primary territory, and these are the males that are least likely to feed the young of a second female. Males who established a second territory late in relation to egg laying in the primary nest did not take over a close second territory as might be predicted from female-female aggression hypothesis.