The genetic mating system is known for only a few species of owls. Most of them are genetically monogamous. The Lanyu scops owl Otus elegans botelensis breeds in high density in the forests of Lanyu (Orchid Island), southeast of Taiwan. Because extra-pair copulations (EPCs) have frequently been observed, we suspected a high degree of extra-pair fertilizations (EPFs). Through intensive field observations we quantified both within-pair and extra-pair copulations of this owl, and used a set of microsatellite loci to assign the parentage of 200 offspring from 108 families collected between 1999 and 2004. Among copulations for which we could identify both participants, 19.77% were EPC. However, no EPC was observed in the period just before egg laying. We found only two cases of parentage mismatch among 108 broods. The first case was most likely a case of brood usurpation, which would be the first case reported in the Strigidae. The second case was an EPF resulting in one offspring. Our study found that parentage mismatch in the Lanyu scops owls to be extremely low, therefore reproductive success can be estimated accurately by simply counting chicks in nests.
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