There has been recent interest in the role genetic incompatibility may play in mate or sperm choice. One source of incompatibility may be too similar or disparate genomes. An isolated population of the ornate dragon lizard, Ctenophorus ornatus, was followed over a breeding season and parentage assigned to the offspring using microsatellites. It was found that the adults in the population had an eight per cent chance of mating with a relative. I examined whether C. ornatus mate (or fertilize their eggs) with respect to genetic similarity. There was no difference in a female's relatedness to the male in whose territory she resided and her average relatedness to all other males. Neither was there a difference in the relatedness of the male that sired a female's offspring and the female's average relatedness to all other males. There was no evidence of a cost to mating with a more genetically similar mate, because offspring survival was not influenced by degree of inbreeding or outbreeding. However, females that were more outbred had fewer offspring survive. In this small population there are two possible explanations for the decreased fitness associated with outbreeding. First, the species may have an evolutionary history of inbreeding and thus may be susceptible to outbreeding depression. Second, as fitter individuals produce more offspring, these offspring have an increased probability of breeding with relatives, leading to an indirect relationship between fitness and outbreeding.
Corresponding Editor: H. L. Gibbs