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Copulation and mate guarding in the Northern Fulmar

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Product Type: Journal Article

Year: 1987

Authors: Hatch, S. A.

Suggested Citation:
Hatch, S. A. 1987. Copulation and mate guarding in the Northern Fulmar. The Auk 104:450-461.


I studied the timing and frequency of copulation in mated pairs and the occurrence of extra-pair copulation (EPC) among Northern Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) for 2 years. Copulation peaked 24 days before laying, a few days before females departed on a prelaying exodus of about 3 weeks. I estimated that females were inseminated at least 34 times each season. A total of 44 EPC attempts was seen, 9 (20%) of which apparently resulted in insemination. Five successful EPCs were solicitated by females visiting neighboring males. Multiple copulations during a single mounting were rare within pairs but occurred in nearly half of the successful EPCs. Both sexes visited neighbors during the prelaying period, and males employed a special behavioral display to gain acceptance by unattended females. Males invested time in nest-site attendance during the prelaying period to guard their mates and pursue EPC. However, the occurrence of EPC in fulmars was largely a matter of female choice.

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