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Data from: Inclusive fitness benefits mitigate costs of cuckoldry to socially paired males

Cite this dataset

Bose, Aneesh P. H. et al. (2019). Data from: Inclusive fitness benefits mitigate costs of cuckoldry to socially paired males [Dataset]. Dryad.


Background: In socially monogamous species, reproduction is not always confined to paired males and females. Extra-pair males commonly also reproduce with paired females, which is traditionally thought to be costly to the females’ social partners. However, we suggest that when the relatedness between reproducing individuals is considered, cuckolded males can suffer lower fitness losses than otherwise expected, especially when the rate of cuckoldry is high. We combine theoretical modeling with a detailed genetic study on a socially monogamous wild fish, Variabilichromis moorii, which displays biparental care despite exceptionally high rates of extra-pair paternity. Results: We measured the relatedness between all parties involved in V. moorii spawning events (i.e. between males and females in social pairs, females and their extra-pair partners, and paired males and their cuckolders), and we reveal that males are on average more related to their cuckolders than expected by chance. Queller–Goodnight estimates of relatedness between males and their cuckolders are on average r = 0.038 but can range up to r = 0.64. This also increases the relatedness between males and the extra-pair offspring under their care. These intriguing results are consistent with the predictions of our mathematical model, which shows that elevated relatedness between paired males and their cuckolders can be adaptive for both parties when competition for fertilizations is strong. Conclusions: Our results show how cuckoldry by relatives can offset males’ direct fitness losses with inclusive fitness gains, which can be substantial in systems where males face almost certain paternity losses.

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Lake Tanganyika