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Mate guarding and frequent copulation in birds: A meta-analysis of their relationship to paternity and male phenotype


Harts, Anna M. F; Booksmythe, Isobel; Jennions, Michael D (2016). Mate guarding and frequent copulation in birds: A meta-analysis of their relationship to paternity and male phenotype. Evolution, 70(12):2789-2808.

Abstract

In many birds, males are presumed to protect their paternity by closely guarding their mate or copulating frequently with her. Both these costly behaviors are assumed to reduce the risk and/or intensity of sperm competition. However, despite many studies on avian extra-pair paternity, it remains unclear how strongly these behaviors are related to fitness and other key life-history traits. Here, we conduct meta-analyses to address two questions. First, are mate guarding and/or frequent copulation positively correlated with a male's share of paternity at his nest? We find a significant positive correlation between both presumed paternity protection behaviors and paternity share. The relationship is, however, weak (r = 0.08–0.23). This is perhaps unsurprising if the risk of partner infidelity, hence the need to protect paternity, varies among males. For example, more attractive males might have less need to protect their paternity. Second, do males with higher indices of so-called male “quality” (phenotypic measures, usually subjectively defined by researchers as predictors of male attractiveness) exhibit lower levels of paternity protection behavior? We find a negative correlation between male quality and paternity protection. This finding might partly explain the weak relationship between paternity protection and paternity, although we discuss other, nonmutually exclusive possibilities.

Abstract

In many birds, males are presumed to protect their paternity by closely guarding their mate or copulating frequently with her. Both these costly behaviors are assumed to reduce the risk and/or intensity of sperm competition. However, despite many studies on avian extra-pair paternity, it remains unclear how strongly these behaviors are related to fitness and other key life-history traits. Here, we conduct meta-analyses to address two questions. First, are mate guarding and/or frequent copulation positively correlated with a male's share of paternity at his nest? We find a significant positive correlation between both presumed paternity protection behaviors and paternity share. The relationship is, however, weak (r = 0.08–0.23). This is perhaps unsurprising if the risk of partner infidelity, hence the need to protect paternity, varies among males. For example, more attractive males might have less need to protect their paternity. Second, do males with higher indices of so-called male “quality” (phenotypic measures, usually subjectively defined by researchers as predictors of male attractiveness) exhibit lower levels of paternity protection behavior? We find a negative correlation between male quality and paternity protection. This finding might partly explain the weak relationship between paternity protection and paternity, although we discuss other, nonmutually exclusive possibilities.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:27 October 2016
Deposited On:10 Feb 2017 13:58
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 23:19
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0014-3820
Additional Information:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Evolution, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.13081. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving (http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-820227.html#terms).
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.13081
PubMed ID:27714783

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