Abstract

Individual variation in the propensity to express innovative behaviors is increasingly recognized as ecologically and evolutionary significant. A growing number of studies show that more innovative individuals can realize higher breeding success, indicating that innovativeness may be important in mating decisions. Here we investigated whether male and female performance in innovative problem-solving tasks is linked to sexual selection via extra-pair mating behavior. We observed the problem-solving success of great tit (Parus major) pairs in 2 tasks at the nest, and related it to the occurrence of extra-pair paternity (EPP) in their broods. In a food-acquisition task, we found no difference in EPP among pairs in which the male solved, pairs in which the female solved, and unsuccessful pairs. In an obstacle-removal task that was solved almost exclusively by females, EPP was more frequent in broods of solver females than in broods of unsuccessful females. These results do not support the hypothesis that the social male’s innovativeness influences the female’s extra-pair mating behavior. Instead, they suggest that the female’s infidelity covaries positively with her innovativeness. Furthermore, EPP was related to both parents’ neophobia such that pairs of highly neophobic individuals were less likely to have EPP than pairs that contained at least one individual with low neophobia. These findings indicate that promiscuity is associated with certain behavioral phenotypes, suggesting that both innovativeness and novelty seeking may facilitate the investment into and/or the exposure to extra-pair mating attempts.

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