Genetic covariance between components of male reproductive success: within-pair vs. extra-pair paternity in song sparrows

J M Reid* (Corresponding Author), P Arcese, S Losdat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


The evolutionary trajectories of reproductive systems, including both male and female multiple mating and hence polygyny and polyandry, are expected to depend on the additive genetic variances and covariances in and among components of male reproductive success achieved through different reproductive tactics. However, genetic covariances among key components of male reproductive success have not been estimated in wild populations. We used comprehensive paternity data from socially monogamous but genetically polygynandrous song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) to estimate additive genetic variance and covariance in the total number of offspring a male sired per year outside his social pairings (i.e. his total extra-pair reproductive success achieved through multiple mating) and his liability to sire offspring produced by his socially paired female (i.e. his success in defending within-pair paternity). Both components of male fitness showed nonzero additive genetic variance, and the estimated genetic covariance was positive, implying that males with high additive genetic value for extra-pair reproduction also have high additive genetic propensity to sire their socially paired female's offspring. There was consequently no evidence of a genetic or phenotypic trade-off between male within-pair paternity success and extra-pair reproductive success. Such positive genetic covariance might be expected to facilitate ongoing evolution of polygyny and could also shape the ongoing evolution of polyandry through indirect selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2046-2056
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number10
Early online date3 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

Bibliographical note

Funded by
European Research Council
Marie Curie Actions
UK Royal Society
Swiss National Science Foundation
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada


  • Animals
  • Female
  • Genetic Fitness
  • Genetic Variation
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • Reproduction
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal
  • Sparrows
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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