The Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) has a unique mating system. Males are free of any parental duties and can fertilize many females during a single breeding season. Females also usually copulate with more than one male, and nestlings in a single nest may be sired by as many as five males. Paternal success of 33 Aquatic Warbler males in a Polish population was determined by microsatellite polymerase-chain-reaction analysis. Males infected by blood parasites (trypanosomes) sired fewer offspring, weighed less, and probably arrived later to breeding grounds than uninfected males. Number of nestlings sired by a male correlated positively with its fat deposits and wing length. These findings indicate that male body condition directly influences paternal success. Number of sired nestlings per individual male ranged from one to eight. Reproductive success among males was uneven, with six males (18%) fathering 44% of nestlings in the study area. Males with high reproductive success arrived at the breeding grounds earlier in spring than males with low reproductive success.
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Vol. 122 • No. 2