Skip to main content Accessibility help

Social and genetic mating system of Ridgway's hawk (Buteo ridgwayi), an endemic raptor on Hispaniola

  • Lance G. Woolaver (a1), Rina K. Nichols (a2), Eugene S. Morton (a1) and Bridget J. M. Stutchbury (a1)


Patterns of social organization and mating systems have been shown to be functions of ecological factors such as resource allocation and breeding density. In some species, particularly birds, social organization and genetic mating systems differ with molecular studies providing evidence of extra-pair young frequently occurring within broods of socially monogamous species. Here we examine the social and genetic mating system of an ecologically little-known forest raptor endemic to the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. From 2005–2009, our field observations of over 60 breeding pairs verified a social mating system of monogamy for the species. During the same time period, we collected blood samples (n = 146 birds, 48 nests) and used microsatellite profiles from 10 loci to estimate genetic relatedness among nestlings in a brood and assign putative fathers. We found no evidence of extra-pair paternity in 41 broods. We had one instance where a social male was not assigned as the putative father, however, the confidence level of this assignment was not significant since the genotypes of the social and assigned males were very similar. Our results support our hypothesis that genetic monogamy would be exhibited by Ridgway's hawk, an island-endemic tropical raptor.


Corresponding author

1Corresponding author. Present address: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, BP 8511, 101 Antananarivo, Madagascar. Email:


Hide All
ALCAIDE, M., NEGRO, J. J., SERRANO, D., TELLA, J. T. & RODRIGUEZ, C. 2005. Extra-pair paternity in the Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni: a re-evaluation using microsatellite markers. Ibis 147:608611.
AMARAL, F. S. R., SHELDON, F. H., GAMAUF, A., HARING, E., RIESING, M., SILVEIRA, L. F. & WAJNTAL, A. 2009. Patterns and processes of diversification in a widespread and ecologically diverse avian group, the buteonine hawks (Aves, Accipitridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53:703715.
ANKER-NILSSEN, T., KLEVEN, O., AARVAK, T. & LIFJELD, J. T. 2008. No evidence of extra-pair paternity in the Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica. Ibis 150:619622.
ANKER-NILSSEN, T., KLEVEN, O., AARVAK, T. & LIFJELD, J. T. 2010. Low or no occurrence of extra-pair paternity in the Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle. Journal of Ornithology 151:247250.
ARNOLD, K. E. & OWENS, I. P. F. 2002. Extra-pair paternity and egg dumping in birds: life history, parental care and the risk of retaliation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 269:12631269.
ARSENAULT, D. P., STACEY, P. B. & HOELZER, G. A. 2002. No extrapair fertilization in Flammulated Owls despite aggregated nesting. Condor 104:197202.
BARRIENTOS, R. & LÓPEZ-DARIAS, M. 2006. A case of a polyandrous trio of Eurasian buzzards Buteo buteo on Fuerte Ventura Island, Canary Islands. Journal of Raptor Research 40:305306.
BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL 2011. Threatened birds of the world. Birdlife International, Cambridge. 852 pp.
BIRKHEAD, T. R. 1979. Mate guarding in the Magpie Pica pica. Animal Behaviour 27:866874.
BIRKHEAD, T. R., ATKIN, L. & MØLLER, A. P. 1987. Copulation behaviour of birds. Behaviour 101:101138.
BLOUIN, M. S. 2003. DNA-based methods for pedigree reconstruction and kinship analysis in natural populations. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18:503511.
BLOUIN, M. S., PARSONS, M., LACAILLE, V. & LOTZ, D. S. 1996. Use of microsatellite loci to classify individuals by relatedness. Molecular Ecology 5:393401.
BOLLMER, J. L., SANCHEZ, T., CANNON, M. D., SANCHEZ, D., CANNON, B., BEDNARZ, J. C., DE VRIES, T., STRUVE, A. S. & PARKER, P. G. 2003. Variation in morphology and mating system among island populations of Galapagos hawks. Condor 105:428438.
BRIGGS, C. W. & COLLOPY, M. W. 2012. Extra-pair paternity in Swainson's Hawks. Journal of Field Ornithology 83:4146.
CASH, K. J. 1989. Three adult Swainson's hawks tending a nest. Condor 91:727728.
CORY, C. B. 1885. The birds of Haiti and San Domingo. Estes and Lauriat, Boston.198 pp.
DECKER, M. D., PARKER, P. G., MINCHELLA, D. J. & RABENOLD, K. N. 1993. Monogamy in black vultures: genetic evidence from DNA fingerprinting. Behavioural Ecology 4:2935.
DELANNOY, C. A. & CRUZ, A. 1988. Breeding biology of the Puerto Rican Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus venator). Auk 105:649662.
DEWOODY, J. A. 2005. Molecular approaches to the study of parentage, relatedness, and fitness: practical applications for wild animals. Journal of Wildlife Management 69:14001418.
DOUGLAS, S. B., HEATH, D. D. & MENNILL, D. J. 2012. Low levels of extra-pair paternity in a neotropical duetting songbird, the Rufous-and-White Wren (Thryothorus rufalbus). Condor 114:393400.
FAABORG, J., PARKER, P. G., DELAY, L., DE VRIES, T. J., BEDNARZ, J. C., MARIA PAZ, S., NARANJO, J. & WAITE, T. A. 1995. Confirmation of cooperative polyandry in the Galapagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis). Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 36:8390.
FERGUSON-LEES, J. & CHRISTIE, D. A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London. 325 pp.
GAUTSCHI, B., GWENAËL, J., NEGRO, J. J., GODOY, J. A., MÜLLER, J. P. & SCHMID, B. 2003. Analysis of relatedness and determination of the source of founders in the captive bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus population. Conservation Genetics 4:479490.
GRIFFITH, S. C. 2000. High fidelity on islands: a comparative study of extrapair paternity in passerine birds. Behavioural Ecology 11:265273.
GRIFFITH, S. C., OWENS, I. P. F. & THUMAN, K. A. 2002. Extra pair paternity in birds: a review of interspecific variation and adaptive function. Molecular Ecology 11:21952212.
HARCOURT, C. & OTTENWALDER, J. A. 1996. Hispaniola. 102111 in Harcourt, C. S. & Sayer, J. A. (eds.). The conservation atlas of tropical forests, the Americas. IUCN, Gland.
HOGAN, F. E. & COOKE, R. 2010. Insights into the breeding behaviour and dispersal of the Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) through the collection of shed feathers. Emu 110:178184.
HULL, J. M., TUFTS, D., TOPINKA, J. R., MAY, B. P. & ERNEST, H. B. 2007. Development of 19 microsatellite loci for Swainson's Hawks (Buteo swainsoni) and other Buteos. Molecular Ecology Notes 7:346349.
HUYVAERT, K. P., ANDERSON, D. J., JONES, T. C., DUAN, W. & PARKER, P. G. 2000. Extra-pair paternity in Waved Albatross. Molecular Ecology 9:14151419.
JOHNSON, P. C. D., FOWLIE, M. K. & AMOS, W. 2005. Isolation of microsatellite loci from the common buzzard, Buteo buteo (Aves: Accipitridae). Molecular Ecology Notes 5:208211.
KALINOWSKI, S. T., TAPER, M. L. & MARSHALL, C. 2007. Revising how the computer program CERVUS accommodates genotyping error increases success in paternity assignment. Molecular Ecology 16:10991106.
KALINOWSKI, S. T., TAPER, M. L. & MARSHALL, T. C. 2010. Corrigendum. Molecular Ecology 19:1512.
KIMBALL, R. T., PARKER, P. G. & BEDNARZ, J. C. 2003. Occurrence and evolution of cooperative breeding among diurnal raptors (Accipitridae and Falconidae). The Auk 120:717729.
KINGMA, S. A., HALL, M. L., SEGELBACHER, G. & PETERS, A. 2009. Radical loss of an extreme extra-pair mating system. BMC Ecology 9:15.
KLEVEN, O., BJERKE, B. & LIFJELD, J. T. 2008. Genetic monogamy in the Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra). Journal of Ornithology 149:651654.
KONOVALOV, D. A., MANNING, C. & HENSHAW, M. T. 2004. KINGROUP: a program for pedigree relationship reconstruction and kingroup assignments using genetic markers. Molecular Ecology Notes 4:779782.
KORPIMÄKI, E., KATRIINA, L., MAY, C. A., PARKIN, D. T., POWELL, G. B., TOLONEN, P. & WETTON, J. H. 1996. Copulatory behaviour and paternity determined by DNA fingerprinting in Kestrels: effects of cyclic food abundance. Animal Behaviour 51:945955.
KRUEGER, T. R., WILLIAMS, D. A. & SEARCY, W. A. 2008. The genetic mating system of a tropical Tanager. Condor 110:559562.
LABARBERA, K., LOVETTE, J. I. & LLAMBIAS, P. E. 2012. Mating opportunities, paternity, and sexual conflict: paternal care in northern and southern temperate house wrens. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 66:253260.
LATTA, S. C., RIMMER, C., KEITH, A., WILEY, J., RAFFAELE, H., MCFARLAND, K. & FERNANDEZ, E. 2006. Birds of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Princeton University Press, Princeton. 258 pp.
LIN, T. T., YOU, E. M. & LIN, K. 2009. Social and genetic mating systems of the Asian Lesser White-toothed shrew, Crocidura shantungensis, in Taiwan. Journal of Mammology 90:13701380.
MACDONALD, D. W., ATKINSON, R. P. D. & BLANCHARD, G. 1997. Spatial and temporal patterns in the activity of European moles. Oecologia 109:8897.
MACEDO, R. H., KARUBIAN, J. & WEBSTER, M. S. 2008. Extra-pair paternity and sexual selection in socially monogamous birds: are tropical birds different? Auk 125:769777.
MAGUIRE, G. S. & MULDER, R. A. 2008. Low levels of extra-pair paternity in southern emu-wrens (Aves: Maluridae). Australian Journal of Zoology 56:7984.
MASELLO, J. F., SRAMKOVA, A., QUILLFELDT, P., EPPLEN, J. T. & LUBJUHN, T. 2002. Genetic monogamy in burrowing parrots Cyanoliseus patagonus? Journal of Avian Biology 33:99103.
MÜLLER, W., EPPLEN, J. T. & LUBJUHN, T. 2001. Genetic paternity analyses in little owls (Athene noctua): does the rate of paternal care select against extra-pair young? Journal of Ornithology 142:195203.
NEUDORF, D. H. L. 2004. Extrapair paternity in birds: understanding variation among species. Auk 121:302307.
NEWTON, I. 1979. Population ecology of raptors. Buteo Books, Vermillion. 399 pp.
QUELLER, D. C. & GOODNIGHT, K. F. 1989. Estimating relatedness using genetic markers. Evolution 43:258275.
RIMMER, C. C., TOWNSEND, J. M., TOWNSEND, A. K., FERNANDEZ, E. M. & ALMONTE, J. 2005. Avian diversity, abundance, and conservation status in the Macaya Biosphere Reserve of Haiti. Ornitologica Neotropical 16:219230.
RUSSELLO, M. A. & AMATO, G. 2004. Ex-situ population management in the absence of pedigree information. Molecular Ecology 13:28292840.
RUTZ, C. 2005. Extra-pair copulation and intraspecific nest intrusions in the Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis. Ibis 147:831835.
SALADIN, V., RITSCHARD, M., ROULIN, A., BIZE, P. & RICHNER, H. 2007. Analysis of genetic parentage in the tawny owl (Strix aluco) reveals extra-pair paternity is low. Journal of Ornithology 148:113116.
SANTANA, C. E., KNIGHTS, R. L. & TEMPLE, S. A. 1986. Parental care at a Red-tailed Hawk nest tended by three adults. Condor 88:109–l10.
SEUTIN, G., WHITE, B. N. & BOAG, P. T. 1991. Preservation of avian blood and tissue samples for DNA analyses. Canadian Journal of Zoology 69:8290.
STEWART, S. L. M., WESTNEAT, D. F. & RITCHISON, G. 2010. Extra-pair paternity in eastern bluebirds: effects of manipulated density and natural patterns of breeding synchrony. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64:463473.
STUTCHBURY, B. J. M. & MORTON, E. S. 1995. The effect of breeding synchrony on extra-pair mating systems in songbirds. Behaviour 132:675690.
STUTCHBURY, B. J. M. & MORTON, E. S. 2001. Behavioral ecology of tropical birds. Academic Press, San Diego. 165 pp.
STUTCHBURY, B. J. M. & MORTON, E. S. 2008. Recent advances in the behavioural ecology of tropical birds. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 120:2637.
STUTCHBURY, B. J. M., MORTON, E. S. & WOOLFENDEN, B. 2007. Comparison of the mating system and breeding behaviour of a resident and migratory tropical flycatcher. Journal of Field Ornithology 78:4049.
TAYLOR, S. S., BOESSENKOOL, S. & JAMIESON, I. G. 2008. Genetic monogamy in two long-lived New Zealand passerines. Journal of Avian Biology 39:579583.
THORSTROM, R. 1996. Methods for trapping tropical forest birds of prey. Wildlife Society Bulletin 24:516520.
TOWNSEND, A. K., BOWMAN, R., FITZPATRICK, J. W., DENT, M. & LOVETTE, I. J. 2011. Genetic monogamy across variable demographic landscapes in cooperatively breeding Florida scrub-jays. Behavioural Ecology 22:464470.
WESTNEAT, D. F. & SHERMAN, P. W. 1997. Density and extra-pair fertilizations in birds: a comparative analysis. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 41:205215.
WESTNEAT, D. F. & STEWART, I. R. K. 2003. Extra-pair paternity in birds: causes, correlates and conflict. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 34:365396.
WETMORE, A. & LINCOLN, F. C. 1934. Additional notes on the birds of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Proceedings of the U.S. National Museum 82:168.
WILEY, J. W. & WILEY, B. 1981. Breeding season ecology and behavior of Ridgway's Hawk Buteo ridgwayi. Condor 83:132151.
WOOLAVER, L. G. 2011. Ecology and conservation genetics of Ridgway's Hawk Buteo ridgwayi. PhD Thesis, York University, Toronto. 313 pp.
WOOLAVER, L. G, NICHOLS, R. K., MORTON, E. & STUTCHBURY, B. J. 2013a. Feeding ecology and specialist diet of critically endangered Ridgway's Hawks. Journal of Field Ornithology 84:138146.
WOOLAVER, L. G, NICHOLS, R. K., MORTON, E. & STUTCHBURY, B. J. 2013b. Population genetics and relatedness in a critically endangered island raptor, Ridgway's Hawk Buteo ridgwayi. Conservation Genetics 14:559571.
WOJCZULANIS-JAKUBAS, K., JAKUBAS, D., OIGARDEN, T. & LIFJELD, J. T. 2009. Extrapair copulations are frequent but unsuccessful in a highly colonial seabird, the little auk Alle alle. Animal Behaviour 77:433438.


Social and genetic mating system of Ridgway's hawk (Buteo ridgwayi), an endemic raptor on Hispaniola

  • Lance G. Woolaver (a1), Rina K. Nichols (a2), Eugene S. Morton (a1) and Bridget J. M. Stutchbury (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed