Neighbouring-group composition and within-group relatedness drive extra-group paternity rate in the European badger (Meles meles)
Annavi, Geetha and Newman, Chris and Dugdale, Hannah L. and Buesching, Christina D. and Sin, Yung Wa and Burke, Terry and Macdonald, David W. (2014) Neighbouring-group composition and within-group relatedness drive extra-group paternity rate in the European badger (Meles meles). Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 27 (10). pp. 2191-2203. ISSN 1010-061X; ESSN: 1420-9101
Official URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/je...
Extra-group paternity (EGP) occurs commonly among group-living mammals and plays an important role in mating systems and the dynamics of sexual selection; however, socio-ecological and genetic correlates of EGP have been underexplored. We use 23 years of demographic and genetic data from a high-density European badger (Meles meles) population, to investigate the relationship between the rate of EGP in litters and mate availability, mate incompatibility and mate quality (heterozygosity). Relatedness between within-group assigned mothers and candidate fathers had a negative quadratic effect on EGP, whereas the number of neighbouring-group candidate fathers had a linear positive effect. We detected no effect of mean or maximum heterozygosity of within-group candidate fathers on EGP. Consequently, EGP was associated primarily with mate availability, subject to within-group genetic effects, potentially to mitigate mate incompatibility and inbreeding. In badgers, cryptic female choice, facilitated by superfecundation, superfoetation and delayed implantation, prevents males from monopolizing within-group females. This resonates with a meta-analysis in group-living mammals, which proposed that higher rates of EGP occur when within-group males cannot monopolize within-group females. In contrast to the positive meta-analytic association, however, we found that EGP associated negatively with the number of within-group assigned mothers and the number of within-group candidate fathers; potentially a strategy to counter within-group males committing infanticide. The relationship between the rate of EGP and socio-ecological or genetic factors can therefore be intricate, and the potential for cryptic female choice must be accounted for in comparative studies.
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