The determination of the degree of genetic relatedness among individuals is important for many population and behavioural studies1. Conventional genetic markers such as allozymes are usually inadequate for such determinations, especially in avian species2,3. Restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) which are inherited as co-dominant mendelian alleles4, have recently been applied to paternity and maternity analyses in humans to address both medical diagnostic and legal5 issues. Field observations have led to the suggestion that lesser snow geese (Anser caerulescens caerulescens) engage in intraspecific brood parasitism (IBP)6 and extra-pair fertilization (EPF)7. Direct evidence for these suggestions has been difficult to obtain because of the lack of easily detectable genetic markers8. We have recently prepared a recombinant genomic library from the lesser snow goose and isolated seventeen probes that all identify RFLPs9. Here we use some of these polymorphic loci to examine the relatedness among members of four families. This study provides evidence for mixed maternity and paternity in broods of this socially monogamous species and demonstrates the utility of DNA markers for genetic analyses of species which traditionally exhibit few conventional genetic markers.
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Quinn, T., Quinn, J., Cooke, F. et al. DNA marker analysis detects multiple maternity and paternity in single broods of the lesser snow goose. Nature 326, 392–394 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1038/326392a0
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