Data from four microsatellite loci developed for the common garter snake, Thamnophis sirtalis, show that multiple paternity is common in a natural population on Beaver Island, Michigan. Six of eight litters tested, and all litters with five or more neonates, were multiply sired. At least triple paternity was documented in the largest litter examined (n = 13 neonates). Inheritance patterns and genotype frequencies in the wild population indicate the presence of null allele(s) at one of the microsatellite loci. Garter snakes are widely used in quantitative genetics research, and paternity testing is essential in studies that rely on sibling analysis.
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