Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Genetic parentage and mate guarding in the Arctic-breedng Western Sandpiper

January 1, 2002

Extrapair copulations and fertilizations are common among birds, especially in passerines. So far, however, few studies have examined genetic mating systems in socially monogamous shorebirds. Here, we examine parentage in the Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri). Given that Western Sandpipers nest at high densities on the Arctic tundra, have separate nesting and feeding areas, and show high divorce rates between years, we expected extrapair paternity to be more common in this species compared to other monogamous shorebirds. However, DNA fingerprinting of 98 chicks from 40 families revealed that only 8% of broods contained young sired by extrapair males, and that 5% of all chicks were extrapair. All chicks were the genetic offspring of their social mothers. We found that males followed females more often than the reverse. Also, cuckolded males were separated from their mates for longer than those that did not lose paternity. Although these results suggest a role for male mate guarding, we propose that high potential costs in terms of reduced paternal care likely constrain female Western Sandpipers from seeking extrapair copulations.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2002
Title Genetic parentage and mate guarding in the Arctic-breedng Western Sandpiper
DOI 10.1642/0004-8038(2002)119[0228:GPAMGI]2.0.CO;2
Authors D. Blomqvist, Bart Kempenaers, Richard B. Lanctot, B. K. Sandercock
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Auk
Index ID 1013333
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Biological Science Center