Why do females of many species mate with more than one male? One of the main hypotheses suggests that female promiscuity is an insurance mechanism against the potential detrimental effects of inbreeding. Accordingly, females should preferably mate with less related males in multiple or extrapair mating. Here we analyse paternity, relatedness among mating partners, and relatedness between parents and offspring, in the socially monogamous North American barn swallow (Hirundo rustica erythrogaster). In contrast to the inbreeding avoidance hypothesis, we found that extrapair mating partners were more related than expected by random choice, and tended to be more related than social partners. Furthermore, extrapair mating resulted in genetic parents being more related to their extrapair young than to their withinpair young. We propose a new hypothesis for extrapair mating based on kin selection theory as a possible explanation to these findings.
Blood sample, nests monitored