Descriptive and experimental evidence for timing-mediated polygyny risk in a pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca population

Koosje P. Lamers*, Marion Nicolaus, Eldar Rakhimberdiev, Jan-Åke Nilsson, Christiaan Both

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

6 Citaten (Scopus)
199 Downloads (Pure)


In polygynous species with biparental care, mates are often acquired in succession. Most research has focussed on the cost of polygyny in secondary females, but primary females may also suffer from reduced paternal care. The likelihood of sharing a male may be higher for early laying females, which could counteract the fitness benefits of breeding early. In this study, we use 12 years of data on pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca, to show that the likelihood of becoming a primary female of a polygynous male declines over the season. Moreover, we provide experimental evidence that early breeding elevates polygyny risk, through an experimental manipulation that introduced early breeding females to a population with later breeding phenology. We found that, independently of breeding date, primary females slightly more often experienced complete brood failures than monogamous females, but did not differ in number of fledged offspring among successful broods or number of locally returning recruits. However, apparent survival in subsequent years was substantially lower in primary females, indicating that they may compensate for reduced male care at the expense of future reproduction. Our study reveals that polygyny risk indeed increases with early breeding and entails a local survival cost for primary females. However, this cost is likely largely outweighed by fitness benefits of early breeding in most years. Hence it is unlikely that the increased polygyny risk of early breeding counteracts the fitness benefits, but it may reduce selection for breeding extremely early.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)1-12
TijdschriftJournal of Avian Biology
Nummer van het tijdschrift2
StatusPublished - 1-feb.-2020


  • Ficedula hypoleuca
  • life history
  • mating system
  • pied flycatcher
  • polygyny
  • reproductive success
  • timing

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