Behavioral paternity predicts genetic paternity in Satin Bowerbirds (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus), a species with a non-resource-based mating system

Sheila M. Reynolds, Katie Dryer, Jonathan Bollback, J. Albert C. Uy, Gail L. Patricelli, Timothy Robson, Gerald Borgia, Michael J. Braun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The potential for differences between genetic paternity and paternity inferred from behavioral observation has long been recognized. These differences are associated with the challenge for females of seeking both genetic and material benefits; this challenge is less severe in species with polygynous, non-resource-based mating systems (such as leks) than in those with resource-based systems. We present the first study of paternity patterns in a non-resource-based species that does not form true leks. We compared paternity inferred from observed mating behavior to genetically assigned paternity in the Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) using eight microsatellite markers. Mating behavior was observed and recorded via automated video-cameras positioned at all bowers (29-34 bowers each year) in the study site throughout each mating season. We obtained blood samples and identified mothers for 11 chicks in 9 nests. For all chicks, the most likely genetic father had been observed to mate with the mother in the year the chick was sampled. All most likely genetic fathers were assigned with high confidence and all were bower-holding males. These results demonstrate that genetic paternity can be inferred from observed mating behavior with reasonable confidence in Satin Bowerbirds. Observed male mating-success is therefore a reliable predictor of reproductive success, and this suggests that high skew in observed male mating-success translates directly to high skew in reproductive success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-867
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Mating success
  • Microsatellites
  • Non-resource-based mating system
  • Paternity
  • Ptilonorhynchus violaceus
  • Reproductive success
  • Satin Bowerbird

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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