Female extra-pair mating: adaptation or genetic constraint?

Wolfgang Forstmeier*, Shinichi Nakagawa, Simon C. Griffith, Bart Kempenaers

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    138 Citations (Scopus)


    Why do females of so many socially monogamous species regularly engage in matings outside the pair bond? This question has puzzled behavioural ecologists for more than two decades. Until recently, an adaptionist's point of view prevailed: if females actively seek extra-pair copulations, as has been observed in several species, they must somehow benefit from this behaviour. However, do they? In this review, we argue that adaptive scenarios have received disproportionate research attention, whereas nonadaptive phenomena, such as pathological polyspermy, de novo mutations, and genetic constraints, have been neglected by empiricists and theoreticians alike. We suggest that these topics deserve to be taken seriously and that future work would benefit from combining classical behavioural ecology with reproductive physiology and evolutionary genetics.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)456-464
    Number of pages9
    JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


    Dive into the research topics of 'Female extra-pair mating: adaptation or genetic constraint?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this