Do female pied flycatchers seek extrapair copulations with familiar males? A test of the incomplete knowledge hypothesis

Tore Slagsvold; Arild Johnsen; Helene M. Lampe; Jan T. Lifjeld
July 2001
Behavioral Ecology;Jul2001, Vol. 12 Issue 4, p412
Academic Journal
In birds with biparental care, great variation exists in the frequency of extrapair paternity. Several hypotheses have been proposed to account for this variation. We tested the incomplete knowledge hypothesis, which states that females are constrained in their knowledge of male quality and that this influences their willingness to engage in extrapair copulations (EPC). By selective removal and release of female pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca, we created a situation where females finally settled with a social mate close to the site where a former social mate was breeding. According to the incomplete knowledge hypothesis, this would lower the threshold for females to seek extrapair copulations in cases where their former social mate was of higher quality than the one finally chosen. The hypothesis was not supported because manipulation of female settlement did not increase frequency of extrapair paternity, not even in cases where the female nested close to the previous mate and the current mate apparently was of lower quality because he was younger and more dull colored. However, we found that when extrapair paternity did occur, the cuckolder tended to be a familiar male (i.e., the female's initial social mate).


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