Analysis of genetic parentage in the tawny owl (Strix aluco) reveals extra-pair paternity is low

Verena Saladin*, Mathias Ritschard, Alexandre Roulin, Pierre Bize, Heinz Richner

*Corresponding author for this work

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19 Citations (Scopus)


We have investigated genetic parentage in a Swiss population of tawny owls (Strix aluco). To this end, we performed genetic analysis for six polymorphic loci of 49 avian microsatellite loci tested for cross-species amplification. We found one extra-pair young out of 137 (0.7%) nestlings in 37 families (2.7%). There was no intra-specific brood parasitism. Our results are in accordance with previous findings for other raptors and owls that genetic monogamy is the rule. Female tawny owls cannot raise offspring without a substantial contribution by their mates. Hence one favoured hypothesis is that high paternal investment in reproduction selects for behaviour that prevents cuckoldry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-116
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Issue number1
Early online dateDec 2006
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


  • microsatellite
  • tawny owl
  • Strix aluco
  • extra-pair paternity
  • breeding synchrony
  • mating system
  • microsatellite markers
  • birds
  • care
  • fertilizations
  • populations
  • decisions
  • monogamy

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