Environmental, social, morphological, and behavioral constraints on opportunistic multiple paternity

Julien G. A. Martin*, Matthew B. Petelle, Daniel T. Blumstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Multiple mating and multiple paternity in polytocous species have been mostly studied from an adaptive (i.e., cost-benefit) perspective. Disease, time, energy, and the risk of injuries are well-known costs of multiple mating, yet from both male and female perspectives, a number of genetic and non-genetic benefits have also been identified. The effects of environmental conditions and individual-specific behavior, however, are much less well understood. Using a long-term study on yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris), we evaluated the impacts of environmental variation, social structure, female body mass, and female docility (a personality trait) on the occurrence of multiple paternity. Multiple paternity was influenced by environmental constraints, social constraints, a female's personality, and her body mass at emergence from hibernation. Personality and mass effects were detected only when environmental or social conditions were favorable. Our results suggest that multiple paternity is mainly limited by the opportunity to have access to multiple mates and is influenced by costs or mate choice because heavier females were more likely to have litters with multiple sires than smaller ones. Future studies in other species might benefit from considering environmental constraints when studying multiple paternity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1531-1538
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number9
Early online date8 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • marmota flaviventris
  • yellow-bellied marmot
  • personality
  • multiple paternity
  • extra-pair paternity
  • sexual selection
  • ecological constraints
  • inbreeding avoidance
  • water striders
  • predation risk
  • life-history
  • polyandry
  • evolution
  • females


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