Nest parasitism in the barnacle goose: evidence from protein fingerprinting and microsatellites

Sofia Anderholm, R. C. Marshall, Henk P. van der Jeugd, Peter Waldeck, Kjelle Larsson, Malte Andersson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (SciVal)


Geese are often seen as one of nature's best examples of monogamous relationships, and many social pairs stay together for life. However, when parents and young are screened genetically, some chicks do not match their social parents. Although this has often been explained as adoption of foreign young after hatching, conspecific nest parasitism is another possibility. We used nondestructive egg albumen sampling and protein fingerprinting to estimate the frequency and success of nest parasitism in a Baltic Sea population of barnacle geese, Branta leucopsis. Among the 86 nests for which we had the most complete information, 36% were parasitized, and 12% of the eggs were parasitic. Almost 80% of the parasitic eggs were laid after the host began incubation. Hatching of these eggs was limited to the few cases where the host female incubated longer than normally because her own eggs failed to hatch. Conspecific nest parasitism in this population therefore seems mainly to be an alternative reproductive tactic of lower fitness than normal nesting. Comparison with DNA pro. ling of chicks (with 10-14 microsatellites) and other evidence confirmed the suitability of protein fingerprinting for analysis of nest parasitism. It can often provide more data than microsatellites, if eggs are albumen-sampled soon after being laid, before most losses occur.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-174
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number1
Early online date30 May 2009
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2009


  • adoption
  • albumen fingerprinting
  • barnacle goose
  • best of bad job
  • Branta leucopsis
  • brood parasitism
  • egg
  • female alternative reproductive tactic
  • microsatellite profiling


Dive into the research topics of 'Nest parasitism in the barnacle goose: evidence from protein fingerprinting and microsatellites'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this