Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Quantitative genetic analysis is often fundamental for understanding evolutionary processes in wild populations. Avian populations provide a model system due to the relative ease of inferring relatedness among individuals through observation. However, extra-pair paternity (EPP) creates erroneous links within the social pedigree. Previous work has suggested this causes minor underestimation of heritability if paternal misassignment is random and hence not influenced by the trait being studied. Nevertheless, much literature suggests numerous traits are associated with EPP and the accuracy of heritability estimates for such traits remains unexplored. We show analytically how nonrandom pedigree errors can influence heritability estimates. Then, combining empirical data from a large great tit (Parus major) pedigree with simulations, we assess how heritability estimates derived from social pedigrees change depending on the mode of the relationship between EPP and the focal trait. We show that the magnitude of the underestimation is typically small (<15%). Hence, our analyses suggest that quantitative genetic inference from pedigrees derived from observations of social relationships is relatively robust; our approach also provides a widely applicable method for assessing the consequences of nonrandom EPP.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1336 - 1344


Extra-pair copulations, SNP, misassigned paternity, pedigree error, pedigree simulation, quantitative genetics, Animals, Female, Male, Models, Genetic, Passeriformes, Pedigree, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Reproduction