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A review of patterns of multiple paternity across sea turtle rookeries

journal contribution
posted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by Patricia LeePatricia Lee, Gail Schofield, R I Haughey, A D Mazaris, Graeme HaysGraeme Hays
Why females would mate with multiple partners and have multiple fathers for clutches or litters is a long-standing enigma. There is a broad dichotomy in hypotheses ranging from polyandry having benefits to simply being an unavoidable consequence of a high incidence of male–female encounters. If females simply give in to mating when it is too costly to avoid being harassed by males (convenience polyandry), then there should be a higher rate of mating as density increases. However, if females actively seek males because they benefit from multiple mating, then mating frequency, and consequently the incidence of multiple paternity of clutches, should be high throughout. To explore these competing explanations, here we review the incidence of multiple paternity for sea turtles nesting around the World. Across 30 rookeries, including all 7 species of sea turtle, the incidence of multiple paternity was only weakly linked to rookery size (r2 = 0.14). However, using high resolution at-sea GPS tracking we show that the specifics of movement patterns play a key role in driving packing density and hence the likely rate of male–female encounters. When individuals use the same focal areas, packing density could be 100 × greater than when assuming individuals move independently. Once the extent of adult movements in the breeding season was considered so that movements and abundance could be combined to produce a measure of density, then across rookeries we found a very tight relationship (r2 = 0.96) between packing density and the incidence of multiple paternity. These findings suggest that multiple paternity in sea turtles may have no benefit, but is simply a consequence of the incidence of male–female encounters.



Advances in marine biology




1 - 31




Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, Elsevier