Assessing the Benefits of Extra-pair Mating for Female Purple Martins (Progne subis)
Kramer, Patrick Michael
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Approximately 75% of socially monogamous passerines pursue extra-pair mating with the frequency of extra-pair paternity varying among and within taxonomic groups. Despite the ubiquity of extra-pair mating systems, substantial research into the subject has produced mixed results and the benefits to females remain elusive. Two genetic benefits hypotheses, the good genes hypothesis and heterozygosity theory, predict that extra-pair offspring (EPO) should generally be more fit than within-pair offspring (WPO). This study aims to test for genetic-based benefits to extra-pair mating in purple martins (Progne subis) by comparing EPO and WPO. Specifically, I compare the first year survival estimates of EPO and WPO and of those offspring that are recruited into the breeding population, I compare the reproductive success of EPO and WPO. I found no differences in first-year survival probability nor did I find any differences in reproductive success between EPO and WPO. I conclude that female purple martins are not benefiting from extra-pair mating through the improved survival or reproductive success of their offspring. Such benefits may be context-dependent or historical contexts in which the benefits of extra-pair mating for females may no longer exist for this semi-domesticated species.