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Data from: Mate fidelity in a polygamous shorebird, the snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus)


Halimubieke, Naerhulan et al. (2019), Data from: Mate fidelity in a polygamous shorebird, the snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus), Dryad, Dataset,


Social monogamy has evolved multiple times and is particularly common in birds. However, it is not well understood why some species live in long-lasting monogamous partnerships while others change mates between breeding attempts. Here, we investigate mate fidelity in a sequential polygamous shorebird, the snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus), a species in which both males and females may have several breeding attempts within a breeding season with the same or different mates. Using six years of data from a well-monitored population in Bahía de Ceuta, Mexico, we investigated predictors and fitness implications of mate fidelity both within and between years. We show that in order to maximize reproductive success within a season, individuals divorce after successful nesting and re-mate with the same partner after nest failure. Therefore, divorced plovers, counterintuitively, achieve higher reproductive success than individuals that retain their mate. We also show that different mating decisions between sexes predict different breeding dispersal patterns. Taken together, our findings imply that divorce is an adaptive strategy to improve reproductive success in a stochastic environment. Understanding mate fidelity is important for the evolution of monogamy and polygamy, and these mating behaviours have implications for reproductive success and population productivity.

Usage notes


Bahía de Ceuta Mexico