First Advisor

Michael T. Murphy

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biology






Eastern kingbird -- Breeding -- Oregon, Eastern kingbird -- Behavior -- Oregon, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (Or.)



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vii, 131 p.) : illustrations


Over three consecutive breeding seasons I examined the breeding system of Eastern Kingbirds in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in SE, Oregon. To assess genetic paternity, I optimized seven microsatellite markers and determined that extra pair paternity was common. Extra-pair young were present in approximately 60% of nests, representing 47% of young. I examined implications of extra-pair paternity from three perspectives.

First, I examined the impact of extra-pair paternity on the opportunity for sexual selection within a socially monogamous system and identified correlates of male reproductive success. Some males were successful at the expense of others, and 24% of males did not sire any young. Thus, variance in male reproductive success was more than nine times greater than female variance, indicating that sexual selection operates strongly in this system. Extra-pair success was positively related to tarsus length and inversely dependent upon dawn song start time. Within-pair success was positively related to nest defense intensity during the incubation period.

Second, I assessed the four genetic hypotheses proposed to explain female cooperation in extra-pair copulations. Extra-pair young were not distributed randomly among broods. Cuckolded within-pair males were not more closely related to females than were extra-pair sires. Pair wise comparisons indicated males with specific song and morphological traits were chosen as sires. Brood success (proportion of brood to fledge and recruit) was unrelated to thenumber of males who sired young in the brood. Extra-pair young were larger and heavier than their within-pair half-siblings. These results unambiguously support the 'good genes' hypothesis of female extra-pair mating.

Last, I examined the influence of breeding date and parental condition (mother, social father and genetic sire) on offspring sex ratio. Given that male variance in reproductive success is much greater than that of females, I predicted the characters of genetic sires would be the most important factor influencing offspring sex ratio. Contrary to my prediction, male traits did not influence offspring sex ratio. However, more males hatched early in the season and females in better condition produced more sons. I also found that male nestling survival to the next breeding season was inversely related to date.


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