Submission Title

DNA Extracted from Eggs Allows Study of Sexual Selection in the Acorn Woodpecker

Presenter Information

Laura Seifert, Gonzaga University

Session Number

RS15

Location

Weyerhaeuser 303

Abstract Number

RS15-c

Abstract

Acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorous) exhibit cooperative breeding behaviors in complex social groups of up to fifteen adults, including up to seven males that compete for breeding in the social group. In order to evaluate female mate choice and reproductive competition among male breeders, our goal was to extract DNA from the sperm trapped on the perivitelline membrane of woodpecker eggs. Avian eggs are expected to retain a record of mating because sperm are trapped on this membrane during fertilization. DNA was successfully extracted from quail eggs to test the validity of this protocol. Our current goal is to use this procedure on acorn woodpecker eggs, and by using microsatellite markers, determine which males contributed sperm to the eggs. We will then use these results to test alternative hypotheses concerning the mechanism governing reproductive partitioning in acorn woodpeckers.

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Apr 23rd, 3:15 PM Apr 23rd, 4:45 PM

DNA Extracted from Eggs Allows Study of Sexual Selection in the Acorn Woodpecker

Weyerhaeuser 303

Acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorous) exhibit cooperative breeding behaviors in complex social groups of up to fifteen adults, including up to seven males that compete for breeding in the social group. In order to evaluate female mate choice and reproductive competition among male breeders, our goal was to extract DNA from the sperm trapped on the perivitelline membrane of woodpecker eggs. Avian eggs are expected to retain a record of mating because sperm are trapped on this membrane during fertilization. DNA was successfully extracted from quail eggs to test the validity of this protocol. Our current goal is to use this procedure on acorn woodpecker eggs, and by using microsatellite markers, determine which males contributed sperm to the eggs. We will then use these results to test alternative hypotheses concerning the mechanism governing reproductive partitioning in acorn woodpeckers.