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Parentage Analysis of Multi-Male Social Groups of Tasmanian Native Hens (Tribonyx mortierii): Genetic Evidence for Monogamy and Polyandry

H. Lisle Gibbs, Anne W. Goldizen, Cindy Bullough and Alan R. Goldizen
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Vol. 35, No. 5 (1994), pp. 363-371
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4601021
Page Count: 9
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Parentage Analysis of Multi-Male Social Groups of Tasmanian Native Hens (Tribonyx mortierii): Genetic Evidence for Monogamy and Polyandry
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Abstract

Accurate estimates of male reproductive success are essential to understanding the evolution of polyandrous mating systems. Here, we use multilocus DNA fingerprinting to assess parentage in an island population of Tasmanian native hens (Tribonyx mortierii), which often live in multi-male and/or multi-female social groups. This isolated population presented special challenges to this technique because it was artificially founded from a small number of individuals in the recent past. DNA profiles from four multilocus minisatellite probes were analyzed for adults and offspring from six social groups using two methods: (1) significance of band-sharing coefficients and (2) distribution among a group's offspring of fragments unique to certain adults. Traditional band-sharing analyses did not provide sufficient resolution to establish parentage in this population due to the high level of band-sharing between adults within groups. In contrast, the distribution of unique fragments suggests that in most cases, all offspring within a group have the same male and female genetic parents, so that monogamy may be the predominant "genetic" mating system of this species. This forces a rexamination of the evolutionary basis of polyandry in these birds. It also demonstrates some of the difficulties in using these highly polymorphic genetic markers for parentage analyses when putative parents are closely related.

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