Birds of Indian Subcontinent

Genetic Evidence for Monogamy in the Cooperatively Breeding Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1994
Authors:Haig, SM, Walters, JR, Plissner, JH
Journal:Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Date Published:1994
ISBN Number:03405443
Keywords:Picidae, Picoides, Picoides borealis
Abstract:We examined the genetic relationship among putative parents, offspring, and helpers in 224 red-cockaded woodpeckers (Picoides borealis) from the Sandhills of North Carolina. Comparison of DNA similarity with a pedigree constructed from 3,823 individually-marked birds observed from 1979 to 1992 provided verification of observed relatedness in the sampled population (R2 = 0.87, df = 14, P < 0.001). In this population, breeding pairs may or may not have helpers, most of which are males that remain on their natal territory. Our sample included helpers assisting their parents, helpers assisting a related male and an unrelated female, and helpers assisting an unrelated pair. Band by band comparison and examination of similarity among DNA profiles indicated that all offspring from non-helped nests were sired by their putative parents (n = 28 families). Similarly, all but one offspring in helped nests were also sired by their putative parents (n = 16 families). In the exceptional case, the offspring evidently was sired by a male external to the group. Analysis of similarity values supported the conclusion that matings by helpers or extra-group males are rare or non-existent. Our results indicate that in this species advantages gained by individuals remaining on their natal territories as helpers do not generally include siring offspring.
Short Title:Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith