Genetic monogamy in Monteiro's hornbill, Tockus monteiri
Publication Year:
Hornbills display a unique breeding habit in which the female seals herself into the nest cavity prior to egg laying and remains ensconced for most of the breeding cycle. This habit necessitates long-term sperm storage, which considerably lengthens the fertile period of the female. This in turn increases the amount of time available to females to engage in extrapair copulations. Because food delivered by the male is the primary source of energy for female maintenance, egg production, incubation, female moult and offspring provisioning, male parental investment (and thus cuckoldry) in these hornbills is extremely expensive. This combination of costly male parental care and female dependence potentially places hornbills at a critical endpoint in the spectrum of genetic promiscuity operating within pairs of socially monogamous birds. A paradigm of reproductive conflict suggests that these factors might allow males to coerce females into a state of genetic monogamy. Sperm storage, however, might allow female hornbills to thwart monopolization attempts by their mates. We used minisatellite multilocus DNA fingerprinting to analyse paternity in a Namibian population of Monteiro's hornbill, Tockus monteiri. Despite the ability of female hornbills to store sperm for long periods, we found no evidence of extrapair paternity (EPP). Although we cannot explicitly rule out a role for coercion in the evolution of the genetic monogamy we observed, the benefits of EPP appear to be devalued to the point that the reproductive interests of males and females overlap considerably.
Publication Title:
Animal Behaviour
Item Type:
Journal Article

EIS custom tag descriptions