Male Reproductive Success and Multiple Paternity in Wild, Low-Density Populations of the Adder (Vipera berus)
Authors: Ursenbacher, S., Erny, C., Fumagalli, L.,
Year of publication:2009
Journal: Journal of Heredity, , Volume: 100(3), Pages: 365-370.
Publisher: Oxford Univ Press Inc; Journals Dept
We studied for the first time the occurrence of multiple paternity, male reproductive success, and neonate survival in wild, low-density adder (Vipera berus) populations using 13 microsatellite loci. Paternity was assigned for 15 clutches, collected during 3 years. Our data demonstrated that multiple paternity can occur at a high level (69%) in natural populations of V. berus, even if the density of adults is low. The high proportion of multiple sired clutches was comparable to the proportion observed in captive populations. Male reproductive success significantly increased with body length, and only the largest males successfully sired entire clutches. Finally, no relationship was detected between the number of fathers per clutch and neonate survival. These results suggest that multiple matings could be beneficial in populations with high level of inbreeding or low male fecundity.