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Journal Article

Alternative matings and the opportunity costs of paternal care in house sparrows

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Schwagmeyer, P. L., Parker, P. G., Mock, D. W., & Schwabl, H. (2012). Alternative matings and the opportunity costs of paternal care in house sparrows. Behavioral Ecology, 23(5), 1108-1114. doi:10.1093/beheco/ars080.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-12F5-0
Among avian species with biparental care, male alternative reproductive opportunities can occur in the form of either extrapair fertilizations or additional social mates. We manipulated testosterone (T) levels in male house sparrows to assess whether participation in parental care detracts from male success in securing alternative matings; we also compared the annual reproductive success of males that engaged in normal levels of care with the success of males that displayed increased mating effort at the expense of parental care. Our results showed that the incidence of polygyny among high-T/low-parenting males was elevated relative to control males, but that success in obtaining extrapair mates was independent of hormonal treatment. Thus, male parental care seems to carry an opportunity cost in terms of reduced acquisition of additional social mates. Despite this cost, between-treatment comparisons of the estimated number of fledglings sired annually suggest that, in this species, the value of male contributions to care is sufficiently high to favor the reductions in T that facilitate normal male parenting.