Trade up polygyny and breeding synchrony in avian populations

Michael A. Fishman, Lewi Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The advent of the molecular techniques used to assign paternity has focused attention on the differences between the social and the genetic mating systems of sexual species. In particular, the interrelations between breeding synchrony - the degree to which the fertility periods of individual females in a population overlap and the degree of extrapair paternity (EPP) in that population, has became a subject of a lively debate. Investigation of the subject can be facilitated by examining the criteria that females use in choosing extrapair partners. These preferences constitute a continuum ranging between two extremes. At one end, there are situations wherein all the females in a population exhibit a preference for males with particular phenotypic markers, and females mated to males lacking such "quality" markers seek extrapair fertilizations from males that do - trade up polygyny. At the other extreme, there are situations wherein females seek to maximize the total number of male partners, rather than secure fertilization by males of particular type - indiscriminate polygyny. Previously, we used game theoretical methods to model the interrelations between breeding synchrony and EPP in the context of indiscriminate polygyny. Here we present an analogous investigation in the context of trade up polygyny. Our results for the two cases, which delimit the range of the possible behavior, are similar. That is, we see that it is the pursuit of extrapair fertilizations opportunities that determines breeding synchrony of populations, rather than the vice versa as has been previously suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-110
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Jan 2006


  • Better genes
  • Breeding synchrony
  • ESS
  • Evolutionary game theory
  • Extrapair fertilizations
  • Extrapair paternity
  • Polyandry


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