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High Paternal Investment in Unrelated Young: Extra-Pair Paternity and Male Parental Care in House Martins

Linda A. Whittingham and Jan T. Lifjeld
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Vol. 37, No. 2 (1995), pp. 103-108
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4601112
Page Count: 6
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High Paternal Investment in Unrelated Young: Extra-Pair Paternity and Male Parental Care in House Martins
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Abstract

The response of males to reduced paternity has important consequences for the evolution and maintenance of a mixed reproductive strategy. Paternity is predicted to affect directly the level of male parental care in some cases but not in others. The response of males to reduced paternity will be influenced by their ability to assess their paternity, the predictability of cuckoldry and the costs and benefits of parental care. Although male house martins (Delichon urbica) provide among the highest levels of male parental care known in passerines (incubation, brooding and feeding nestlings), there was no evidence that cuckolded males substantially reduced their level of parental care, and, as a result, all young fledged successfully. Thus, extra-pair fertilizations enhanced the reproductive success of some males because they were able to parasitize the parental care of cuckolded males. We discuss several conditions which may favor extensive male parental care even when the male's paternity is very low.

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