Blue tit - Copyright Mihai Valcu

Variation in mating strategies

Dr. Mihai Valcu

Female mate choice strategies in monogamous bird species (Dr. Mihai Valcu)
In many monogamous bird species, the females frequently look for opportunities to mate with other males. In this case, too, they receive only sperm, in other words they get no direct advantages. Our studies on blue tits, however, indicate that the females do achieve indirect advantages: their young either receive "good genes" (when the females mate promiscuously with familiar, high-quality neighbouring males) or are more heterozygous (when the females mate promiscuously with males that are not from the local area). Furthermore, the females may divorce their traditional partners and look for new breeding territories. To raise their fitness, blue tits could use one of these strategies - promiscuity or moving to a new area. In the course of this project, we want to distinguish between the effects of mate and habitat selection, and between adaptive divorce decisions, and forced divorce due to the take-over of the territory/mate by another individual.

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