Jessica Pontow

An analysis of extra-pair paternity in a population of Tree Swallows in Allendale, Michigan

Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) are migratory, socially monogamous passerines that naturally nest in tree cavities in wetlands and fields adjacent to water. They also readily use nest boxes, which makes them an ideal study species. Previous studies have shown that Tree Swallows often exhibit high rates of extra-pair paternity, ranging from 60-99% of females having extra-pair young in their nests. While the benefits that males receive from extra-pair mating are well understood, the benefits that females receive are not well known. By conducting genetic analyses of blood samples from 60 adults and 123 nestlings, we aim to determine the proportion of extra-pair offspring in 30 families of Tree Swallows. Comparison of extra-pair young to within-pair young may offer insight into the benefits females receive through extra-pair mating.

Faculty Mentors: Michael Lombardo, Biology & Patrick Thorpe, Biology

Page last modified August 2, 2013