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Low frequency of extra-pair paternity in Savi's Warblers (Locustella luscinioides)

  • Julio Neto
  • Bengt Hansson
  • Dennis Hasselquist
Publishing year: 2010
Language: English
Pages: 1413-1429
Publication/Series: Behaviour
Volume: 147
Issue: 11
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Brill Academic Publishers

Abstract english

Although the frequency of extra-pair paternity (EPP) has been described for many species, the relative importance of the various contemporary and historical factors explaining EPP variation is still the subject of debate. In this study, we found 11 polymorphic microsatellite loci in the Savi's Warbler (Locustella luscinioides), and used eight loci to analyze the paternity of 392 nestlings belonging to 102 broods of this little-known species. The frequency of EPP was 4.1% of nestlings and 5.9% of broods, which is surprisingly low given what is known about Savi's Warbler's life history and ecology, and among the lowest found of any socially-monogamous passerine bird. Comparisons with similar species indicate that this low frequency is unlikely to have been determined by the ancient evolution of life history strategies. Our observations suggest that the costs of engaging in extra-pair copulations might be high for the females. Larger males, particularly those with longer bill and tarsus, are more likely to be cuckolded; and the few possible comparisons between cuckolded males and extra-pair sires reveal a similar pattern. We further show that bill and tarsus lengths correlate with arrival date, which is associated with individual quality in many migratory bird species.


  • Biological Sciences
  • genetic breeding system
  • microsatellites
  • body size
  • sexual selection


  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 1568-539X
Júlio Neto
E-mail: julio [dot] neto [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Visiting research fellow



Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Research group

Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab