Genetic similarity between mates and extra-pair parentage in three species of shorebirds

D Blomqvist, M Andersson, C Kupper, I C Cuthill, J Kis, R B Lanctot, B K Sandercock, T Szekely, J Wallander, B Kempenaers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Citations (SciVal)


Matings between close relatives often reduce the fitness of offspring, probably because homozygosity leads to the expression of recessive deleterious alleles(1-5). Studies of several animals have shown that reproductive success is lower when genetic similarity between parents is high(4-7), and that survival and other measures of fitness increase with individual levels of genetic diversity(8-11). These studies indicate that natural selection may favour the avoidance of matings with genetically similar individuals. But constraints on social mate choice, such as a lack of alternatives, can lead to pairing with genetically similar mates. In such cases, it has been suggested that females may seek extra-pair copulations with less related males(4), but the evidence is weak or lacking(4,5). Here we report a strong positive relationship between the genetic similarity of social pair members and the occurrence of extra-pair paternity and maternity ('quasi-parasitism') in three species of shorebirds. We propose that extra-pair parentage may represent adaptive behavioural strategies to avoid the negative effects of pairing with a genetically similar mate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-615
Number of pages3
Issue number6907
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

ID number: ISI:000178483100044


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