Extra-pair paternity in the socially monogamous white stork (Ciconia ciconia) is fairly common and independent of local density

Sondra Feldman Turjeman*, Alejandro Centeno-Cuadros, Ute Eggers, Shay Rotics, Julio Blas, Wolfgang Fiedler, Michael Kaatz, Florian Jeltsch, Martin Wikelski, Ran Nathan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Although many birds are socially monogamous, most (>75%) studied species are not strictly genetically monogamous, especially under high breeding density. We used molecular tools to reevaluate the reproductive strategy of the socially monogamous white stork (Ciconia ciconia) and examined local density effects. DNA samples of nestlings (Germany, Spain) were genotyped and assigned relationships using a two-program maximum likelihood classification. Relationships were successfully classified in 79.2% of German (n = 120) and 84.8% of Spanish (n = 59) nests. For each population respectively, 76.8% (n = 73) and 66.0% (n = 33) of nests contained only full-siblings, 10.5% (n = 10) and 18.0% (n = 9) had half-siblings (at least one nestling with a different parent), 3.2% (n = 3) and 10.0% (n = 5) had unrelated nestlings (at least two nestlings, each with different parents), and 9.5% (n = 9) and 6.0% (n = 3) had "not full-siblings" (could not differentiate between latter two cases). These deviations from strict monogamy place the white stork in the 59 th percentile for extra-pair paternity among studied bird species. Although high breeding density generally increases extra-pair paternity, we found no significant association with this species' mating strategies. Thus although genetic monogamy is indeed prominent in the white stork, extra-pair paternity is fairly common compared to other bird species and cannot be explained by breeding density.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number27976
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 22 Jun 2016


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