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Proc Biol Sci. 2009 Jan 22;276(1655):337-45. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1116.

Lifespan, lifetime reproductive performance and paternity loss of within-pair and extra-pair offspring in the coal tit Periparus ater.

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Institute for Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, University of Bonn, An der Immenburg 1, 53121 Bonn, Germany.


The hypothesis that females of socially monogamous species obtain indirect benefits (good or compatible genes) from extra-pair mating behaviour has received enormous attention but much less generally accepted support. Here we ask whether selection for adult survival and fecundity or sexual selection contribute to indirect selection of the extra-pair mating behaviour in socially monogamous coal tits (Periparus ater). We tracked locally recruited individuals with known paternity status through their lives predicting that the extra-pair offspring (EPO) would outperform the within-pair offspring (WPO). No differences between the WPO and EPO recruits were detected in lifespan or age of first reproduction. However, the male WPO had a higher lifetime number of broods and higher lifetime number of social offspring compared with male EPO recruits, while no such differences were evident for female recruits. Male EPO recruits did not compensate for their lower social reproductive success by higher fertilization success within their social pair bonds. Thus, our results do not support the idea that enhanced adult survival, fecundity or within-pair fertilization success are manifestations of the genetic benefits of extra-pair matings. But we emphasize that a crucial fitness component, the extra-pair fertilization success of male recruits, has yet

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