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Numerous studies have tested for indirect selection on female extra-pair reproduction (EPR) by quantifying whether extra-pair young (EPY) are fitter than their within-pair young (WPY) maternal half-siblings. In contrast, the hypothesis that offspring of EPY and WPY (rather than the EPY and WPY themselves) differ in fitness has not been tested, even though inter-generational effects of parental extra-pair status on offspring fitness could alter the magnitude and direction of indirect selection on EPR. We tested whether offspring of EPY song sparrows, Melospiza melodia, were more likely to recruit or produce hatched or recruited offspring over their lifetimes than offspring of WPY. Hatchlings with one or two EPY parents were more likely to recruit and produce hatched offspring than hatchlings with two WPY parents. Furthermore, these relationships differed between maternal versus paternal extra-pair status. Hatchlings with EPY fathers were more likely to recruit and produce offspring than hatchlings with WPY fathers. In contrast, hatchlings with EPY mothers were as likely to recruit as hatchlings with WPY mothers and tended to be less likely to produce recruited offspring. Depending on the causal genetic and environmental mechanisms, such conflicting inter-generational relationships between parental extra-pair status and offspring fitness could substantially influence the evolutionary dynamics of EPR.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Biol Sci

Publication Date





4078 - 4086


Animals British Columbia Female *Genetic Fitness Linear Models Male *Mating Preference, Animal Reproduction Seasons Songbirds/*physiology