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Extra-pair paternity patterns in European barn swallows Hirundo rustica are best explained by male and female age rather than male ornamentation



Rok publikování 2019
Druh Článek v odborném periodiku
Časopis / Zdroj Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Fakulta / Pracoviště MU

Přírodovědecká fakulta

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Klíčová slova Extra-pair fertilisations; Within-pair paternity; EPP; Sexual ornamentation; Sexual selection; Tail streamer length
Popis Adaptive explanations for the evolution of extra-pair paternity (EPP) in birds often assume cuckolding males to be better-ornamented than cuckolded males. Several studies have confirmed that either male sexual ornamentation is associated with EPP or that phenotypes of cuckolded and cuckolding males differ. Expression of male ornamentation may change with age; however, a recent meta-analysis has identified age itself as an important factor that differed in cuckolding and cuckolded males. The age of social female partner may also affect EPP, though this has received little attention. Here, by using detailed data on age of individual barn swallows (Hirundo rustica rustica), we identified age as the major predictor of male and female promiscuity. Our results revealed that, whereas a male’s ability to obtain an extra-pair mate increased linearly with age, the only predictor of the probability of a male being cuckolded was the age of his social partner, with older females engaging more frequently in EPP. In contrast, male ornamentation was not significantly related to EPP pattern. Tarsus length was the sole significant phenotypic trait in comparison between cuckolding and cuckolded males. Our data provide little support for the hypothesis that extra-pair mate choice in our barn swallow population was ornament driven. This may indicate either a non-adaptive scenario for EPP, for example with older males better able to coerce females into copulation, or EPP mating based on other than absolute mate-choice criteria associated with the expression of male ornamentation.

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