Extra-pair copulation and sperm competition in the zebra finch

Article metrics

Abstract

Most birds are monogamous, but recent studies have shown that extra-pair copulations (EPCs) occur frequently1,2 despite a range of paternity guards, including mate-guarding and frequent copulation1. Although EPCs are known to result in extra-pair paternity3–5, there are no previous quantitative estimates of the success of EPCs in fertilizing eggs. We present here estimates of the likelihood of success of extra-pair copulations in a monogamous passerine, the zebra finch Poephila guttata. We show that (1) EPCs occurring under semi-natural conditions in captivity result in extra-pair paternity, (2) sperm from the last male to mate has precedence over previous matings: a single EPC occurring last is disproportionately successful in fertilizing eggs, but EPCs followed by further pair copulations have a low probability of success. These results have important implications for sexual selection theory.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Birkhead, T. R., Atkin, L. & Moller, A. P. Behaviour 101, 101–138 (1987).

  2. 2

    McKinney, F., Cheng, K. M. & Bruggers, D. in Sperm Competition and the evolution of animal mating systems (ed. Smith, R. L.) 523–545 (Academic, New York, 1984).

  3. 3

    Westneat, D. Anim. Behav. 35, 865–876 (1987).

  4. 4

    Westneat, D. Anim. Behav. 35, 877–886 (1987).

  5. 5

    Burke, T. & Bruford, M. W. Nature 327, 149–152 (1987).

  6. 6

    Parker, G. A. Biol. Rev. 45, 525–567 (1970).

  7. 7

    Compton, M. M., van Krey, H. P. & Siegel, P. B. Poult. Sci. 57, 1696–1700 (1978).

  8. 8

    Birkhead, T. R. Adv. Stud. Behav. 18, 35–72 (1988).

  9. 9

    Moller, A. P. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 17, 401–408 (1985).

  10. 10

    Birkhead, T. R., Clarkson, K. & Zann, R. Anim. Behav. (in the press).

  11. 11

    Frith, H. J. & Tilt, R. A. Emu 59, 289–295 1959).

  12. 12

    Lanier, D. L., Estep, D. Q. & Dewsbury, D. A. J. comp. Physiol. Psychol. 93, 781–792 (1979).

  13. 13

    Birkhead, T. R. Anim. Behav. 27, 866–874 (1979).

  14. 14

    Martin, P. A., Reimers, T. J., Lodge, J. R. & Dzuik, P. K. J. Reprod. Fert. 39, 251–258 (1974).

  15. 15

    Payne, L. F. & Kahrs, A. J. Poult. Sci. 40, 1598–1604 (1961).

  16. 16

    Sims, M. E., Ball, G. F. & Cheng, M. F. Condor. 89, 112–116 (1987).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.