When individuals mate outside the pair bond, males should employ behaviours such as aggression or vocal displays (e.g. duetting) that help assure paternity of the offspring they care for. We tested whether male paternity was associated with aggression or duetting in the red-backed fairy-wren, a species exhibiting high rates of extra-pair paternity. During simulated territorial intrusions, aggression and duetting were variable among and repeatable within males, suggesting behavioural consistency of individuals. Males with quicker and stronger duet responses were cuckolded less often than males with slower and weaker responses. In contrast, physical aggression was not correlated with male paternity. These results suggest that either acoustic mate guarding or male–female vocal negotiations via duetting lead to increased paternity assurance, whereas physical aggression does not.
- Received December 5, 2015.
- Accepted February 2, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.