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Multiple Paternity in a Territorial Passerine: The Bobolink
The Auk (1985)
  • Thomas A. Gavin, Cornell University
  • Eric K. Bollinger, Eastern Illinois University

Electrophoretic and behavioral evidence corroborate the conclusion that Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) females occasionally copulate with more than one male, which results in the insemination of a single clutch of eggs by those males. In 2 of 12 families from which blood samples were obtained from the mother, the putative father, and the nestlings, at least 2 males were responsible for fertilization of the clutch. We believe this is only the second bird species in which multiple paternity has been documented conclusively in the wild. Our speculation that it may not be uncommon leads to a caution for evolutionary biologists who use apparent reproductive success in birds to address questions about fitness.

  • Bobolink,
  • Dolichonyx oryzivorus,
  • fertilization,
  • paternity
Publication Date
July, 1985
Citation Information
Thomas A. Gavin and Eric K. Bollinger. "Multiple Paternity in a Territorial Passerine: The Bobolink" The Auk Vol. 102 Iss. 3 (1985)
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