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Data from: Temporal variability and cooperative breeding: testing the bet-hedging hypothesis in the acorn woodpecker

Citation

Koenig, Walter D.; Walters, Eric L. (2015), Data from: Temporal variability and cooperative breeding: testing the bet-hedging hypothesis in the acorn woodpecker, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.67225

Abstract

Cooperative breeding is generally considered an adaptation to ecological constraints on dispersal and independent breeding, usually due to limited breeding opportunities. Although benefits of cooperative breeding are typically thought of in terms of increased mean reproductive success, it has recently been proposed that this phenomenon may be a bet-hedging strategy that reduces variance in reproductive success (fecundity variance) in populations living in highly variable environments. We tested this hypothesis using long-term data on the polygynandrous acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus). In general, fecundity variance decreased with increasing sociality, at least when controlling for annual variation in ecological conditions. Nonetheless, decreased fecundity variance was insufficient to compensate for reduced per capita reproductive success of larger, more social groups, which typically suffered lower estimated mean fitness. We did, however, find evidence that sociality in the form of larger group size resulted in increased fitness in years following a small acorn crop due to reduced fecundity variance. Bet-hedging, although not the factor driving sociality in general, may play a role in driving acorn woodpecker group living when acorns are scarce and ecological conditions are poor.

Usage Notes

Location

Central Coastal California