Realized reproductive success of polygynous red-winged blackbirds revealed by DNA markers

H. Lisle Gibbs, Patrick J. Weatherhead, Peter T. Boag, Bradley N. White, Lisa M. Tabak, Drew J. Hoysak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypervariable genetic markers, including a novel locus-specific marker detected by a mouse major histocompatibility complex probe, reveal that multiple paternity is common in families of polygynous red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus). Almost half of all nests contained at least one chick resulting from an extra-pair fertilization, usually by a neighboring male. Genetically based measures of reproductive success show that individual males realize more than 20% of their overall success from extra-pair fertilizations, on average, and that this form of mating behavior confounds traditional measures of male success. The importance of alternative reproductive tactics in a polygynous bird is quantified, and the results challenge previous explanations for the evolution of avian polygny.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1394-1397
Number of pages4
Issue number4986
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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