Genetic parentage and mate guarding in the Arctic-breedng Western Sandpiper

The Auk
By: , and 



Extrapair copulations and fertilizations are common among birds, especially in passerines. So far, however, few studies have examined genetic mating systems in socially monogamous shorebirds. Here, we examine parentage in the Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri). Given that Western Sandpipers nest at high densities on the Arctic tundra, have separate nesting and feeding areas, and show high divorce rates between years, we expected extrapair paternity to be more common in this species compared to other monogamous shorebirds. However, DNA fingerprinting of 98 chicks from 40 families revealed that only 8% of broods contained young sired by extrapair males, and that 5% of all chicks were extrapair. All chicks were the genetic offspring of their social mothers. We found that males followed females more often than the reverse. Also, cuckolded males were separated from their mates for longer than those that did not lose paternity. Although these results suggest a role for male mate guarding, we propose that high potential costs in terms of reduced paternal care likely constrain female Western Sandpipers from seeking extrapair copulations.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Genetic parentage and mate guarding in the Arctic-breedng Western Sandpiper
Series title The Auk
DOI 10.1642/0004-8038(2002)119[0228:GPAMGI]2.0.CO;2
Volume 119
Issue 1
Year Published 2002
Language English
Publisher American Ornithological Society
Contributing office(s) Alaska Biological Science Center
Description 5 p.
First page 228
Last page 232
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