Genetic evidence for promiscuity in the Ornate Tinamou Nothoprocta ornata (Aves: Tinamiformes)

Lina M. Giraldo-Deck, Jan C. Habel, Harald Meimberg, Alvaro Garitano-Zavala

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Tinamous have male-only parental care. For their mating system, simultaneous polygyny and sequential polyandry is proposed as an optimal model and is confirmed in all species according to the existing literature, except in the Ornate Tinamou. For the Ornate Tinamou a monogamous mating system is reported. However, this knowledge is based only on few direct observations in the field. Social monogamy in association with promiscuity would probably expose males to cuckoldry and, at the same time, constrain additional mating opportunities for them. To understand the evolutionary context for monogamy in the Ornate Tinamou, the present study aimed to determine whether this species is genetically monogamous or not and whether males are subjected to cuckoldry. We used polymorphic microsatellite markers to perform a sib-ship and paternity analysis based on samples from eggs and feathers of incubating males from four clutches. Promiscuity was found in all nests and the observed rate of cuckoldry ranged from 0% to 33.3%. These results rebut the consideration of monogamy for the Ornate Tinamou. Thus, the optimal model with polygynous males and polyandrous females prevails as an evolutionary stable strategy among tinamous, even in different social mating systems and despite high levels of cuckoldry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)604-611
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Technical University Munich (Germany) and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Austria) for financial support. We are grateful to the local community and S. Ávila, E. Hug, J. Campos, A. Salazar, I. Garitano-Zavala, and L. Garitano-Zavala (La Paz, Bolivia) for field assistance, as well as S. Sturm, M. Schürmann (Freising, Germany) and M. Curto (Vienna, Austria) for help in the laboratory. Sampling permit and sample transfer was approved by the Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Agua (MMAyA) and the Dirección General de la Biodiversidad (DGB) Bolivia (permit number: MMAyA-VMABCCGDF-DGBAP N°152/2014). We thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable and helpful comments on an earlier version of our article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Linnean Society of London.


  • Cuckoldry
  • Male parental care
  • Mating system
  • Microsatellites
  • Monogamy
  • Polyandrous females
  • Polygynous males
  • Tinamidae


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