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Selected Publication:

Type of publication: Journal Article
Type of document: Full Paper

Year: 2004

Authors: Helfenstein, F; Tirard, C; Danchin, E; Wagner, RH

Title: Low frequency of extra-pair paternity and high frequency of adoption in Black-legged Kittiwakes.

Source: Condor (106), 1 149-155.

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Wagner Richard

Vetmed Research Units
Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology

We studied the timing and frequency of extra-pair copulations and extra-pair fertilizations in the Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), a socially monogamous seabird that breeds in dense colonies. We recorded 313 copulations by 82 marked pairs in 25 000 nest-hr over three years. We recorded only two extra-pair copulations, both of which were obtained by opportunistic males that disrupted pair copulations in progress. Pairs performed a mean of 14 copulations per clutch suggesting that males may copulate relatively frequently for paternity assurance. Our parentage analysis based on eight microsatellite markers did not detect any extra-pair paternity in 119 offspring from 86 broods; however we did detect three cases of adoption caused by chicks moving to adjacent nests. The between-nest movement of a minimum of 8% of chicks suggests that escaping siblicide may be an adaptive strategy for some nestlings, despite the risk of falling into the sea and drowning (observed in 11 of 21 chicks).

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