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Data from: Sex differences in the drivers of reproductive skew in a cooperative breeder

Cite this dataset

Nelson-Flower, Martha J.; Flower, Tom P.; Ridley, Amanda R. (2018). Data from: Sex differences in the drivers of reproductive skew in a cooperative breeder [Dataset]. Dryad.


Many cooperatively breeding societies are characterized by high reproductive skew, such that some socially dominant individuals breed, while socially subordinate individuals provide help. Inbreeding avoidance serves as a source of reproductive skew in many high-skew societies, but few empirical studies have examined sources of skew operating alongside inbreeding avoidance, or compared individual attempts to reproduce (reproductive competition) with individual reproductive success. Here we use long-term genetic and observational data to examine factors affecting reproductive skew in the high-skew cooperatively breeding southern pied babbler (Turdoides bicolor). When subordinates can breed, skew remains high, suggesting factors additional to inbreeding avoidance drive skew. Subordinate females are more likely to compete to breed when older or when ecological constraints on dispersal are high, but heavy subordinate females are more likely to successfully breed. Subordinate males are more likely to compete when they are older, during high ecological constraints, or when they are related to the dominant male, but only the presence of within-group unrelated subordinate females predicts subordinate male breeding success. Reproductive skew is not driven by reproductive effort, but by forces such as intrinsic physical limitations and intra-sexual conflict (for females), or female mate choice, male mate-guarding and potentially reproductive restraint (for males). Ecological conditions or ‘outside options’ affect the occurrence of reproductive conflict, supporting predictions of recent synthetic skew models. Inbreeding avoidance together with competition for access to reproduction may generate high skew in animal societies, and disparate processes may be operating to maintain male vs. female reproductive skew in the same species.

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