Multiple paternity in a territorial passerine: the bobolink

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) Science Article 8


Electrophoretic and behavioral evidence corroborate the conclusion that Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) females occasionally copulate with more than one male, whichresults in the insemination of a single clutch of eggs by those males. In 2 of 12 families from which blood samples were obtained from the mother, the putative father, and the nestlings, at least 2 males were responsible for fertilization of the clutch. We believe this is only the second bird species in which multiple paternity has been documented conclusively in the wild. Our speculation that it may not be uncommon leads to a caution for evolutionary biologists who use apparent reproductive succes in birds to address questions about fitness.

THOMAS A. GAVIN, ERIC K. BOLLINGER, The Auk 102: 550-555

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