Why inclusive fitness can make it adaptive to produce less fit extra-pair offspring.
ABSTRACT: Social monogamy predominates in avian breeding systems, but most socially monogamous species engage in promiscuous extra-pair copulations (EPCs). The reasons behind this remain debated, and recent empirical work has uncovered patterns that do not seem to fit existing hypotheses. In particular, some results seem to contradict the inbreeding avoidance hypothesis: females can prefer extra-pair partners that are more closely related to them than their social partners, and extra-pair young can have lower fitness than within-pair young. Motivated by these studies, we show that such results can become explicable when an asymmetry in inbreeding tolerance between monogamy and polygamy is extended to species that combine both strategies within a single reproductive season. Under fairly general conditions, it can be adaptive for a female to choose an unrelated social partner, but inbreed with an extra-pair partner. Inbreeding depression is compensated for by inclusive fitness benefits, which are only fully realized in EPCs. We also show that if a female has already formed a suboptimal social bond, there are scenarios where it is beneficial to engage in EPCs with less related males, and others where EPCs with more related males increase her inclusive fitness. This has implications for detecting general relatedness or fitness trends when averaged over several species.
Project description:Females in many species engage in matings with males that are not their social mates. These matings are predicted to increase offspring heterozygosity and fitness, and thereby prevent the deleterious effects of inbreeding. We tested this hypothesis in a cooperative breeding mammal, the common mole-rat Cryptomys hottentotus hottentotus. Laboratory-based studies suggested a system of strict social monogamy, while recent molecular studies indicate extensive extra-pair paternity despite colonies being founded by an outbred pair. Our data show that extra-pair and within-colony breeding males differed significantly in relatedness to breeding females, suggesting that females may gain genetic benefits from breeding with non-resident males. Extra-colony male mating success was not based on heterozygosity criteria at microsatellite loci; however, litters sired by extra-colony males exhibited increased heterozygosity. While we do not have the data that refute a relationship between individual levels of inbreeding (Hs) and fitness, we propose that a combination of both male and female factors most likely explain the adaptive significance of extra-pair mating whereby common mole-rats maximize offspring fitness by detecting genetic compatibility with extra-pair mates at other key loci, but it is not known which sex controls these matings.
Project description:Inclusive fitness theory predicts that parental care will vary with relatedness between potentially caring parents and offspring, potentially shaping mating system evolution. Systems with extra-pair paternity (EPP), and hence variable parent-brood relatedness, provide valuable opportunities to test this prediction. However, existing theoretical and empirical studies assume that a focal male is either an offspring's father with no inbreeding, or is completely unrelated. We highlight that this simple dichotomy does not hold given reproductive interactions among relatives, complicating the effect of EPP on parent-brood relatedness yet providing new opportunities to test inclusive fitness theory. Accordingly, we tested hierarchical hypotheses relating parental feeding rate to parent-brood relatedness, parent kinship and inbreeding, using song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) experiencing natural variation in relatedness. As predicted, male and female feeding rates increased with relatedness to a dependent brood, even controlling for brood size. Male feeding rate tended to decrease as paternity loss increased, and increased with increasing kinship and hence inbreeding between socially paired mates. We thereby demonstrate that variation in a key component of parental care concurs with subtle predictions from inclusive fitness theory. We additionally highlight that such effects can depend on the underlying social mating system, potentially generating status-specific costs of extra-pair reproduction.
Project description:Abstract:Why so much variation in extra-pair parentage occurs within and among populations remains unclear. Often the fitness costs and benefits of extra-pair parentage are hypothesised to explain its occurrence; therefore, linking extra-pair parentage with traits such as personality (behavioural traits that can be heritable and affect reproductive behaviour) may help our understanding. Here, we investigate whether reproductive outcomes and success are associated with exploratory behaviour in a natural population of cooperatively breeding Seychelles warblers (Acrocephalus sechellensis) on Cousin Island. Exploratory behaviour correlates positively with traits such as risk-taking behaviour and activity in other wild bird species and might promote extra-pair mating by increasing the rate at which potential extra-pair partners are encountered. We therefore predicted that fast-exploring individuals would have more extra-pair offspring. There is also a potential trade-off between pursuing extra-pair parentage and mate guarding in males. We therefore also predicted that fast-exploring males would be more likely to pursue extra-pair parentage and that this would increase the propensity of their mate to gain extra-pair parentage. We found that neither the total number of offspring nor the number of extra-pair offspring were associated with a male's or female's exploratory behaviour. However, there was a small but significant propensity for females to have extra-pair fertilisations in pairs that were behaviourally disassortative. Overall, we conclude that, due to the small effect size, the association between exploratory behaviour and extra-pair paternity is unlikely to be biologically relevant. Significance statement:True genetic monogamy is rare, even in socially monogamous systems, and multiple factors, such as behaviour, social structure, morphology and physiology, determined by the biological system can cause variation in extra-pair parentage (EPP). Therefore, investigating the inherent differences in these factors among individuals could be informative. We investigated whether reproductive outcomes/success are associated with differences in the propensity to explore novel environments/objects in a promiscuous, island-dwelling cooperatively breeding bird, the Seychelles warbler. Our results showed that exploratory behaviour was not associated with the number of offspring produced by an individual, and thus the long-term fitness consequences of different exploratory tendencies did not differ. We also found that the propensity to engage in EPP in females was higher in dissimilar behavioural pairs, but due to the small effect size, we hesitate to conclude that there are personality-dependent mating outcomes in the population.
Project description:Extra-pair paternity (EPP) has been suggested to improve the genetic quality of offspring, but evidence has been equivocal. Benefits of EPP may be only available to specific individuals or under certain conditions. Red-winged fairy-wrens have extremely high levels of EPP, suggesting fitness benefits might be large and available to most individuals. Furthermore, extreme philopatry commonly leads to incestuous social pairings, so inbreeding avoidance may be an important selection pressure. Here, we quantified the fitness benefits of EPP under varying conditions and across life-stages. Extra-pair offspring (EPO) did not appear to have higher fitness than within-pair offspring (WPO), neither in poor years nor in the absence of helpers-at-the-nest. However, EPP was beneficial for closely related social pairs, because inbred WPO suffered an overall 75% reduction in fitness. Inbreeding depression was nonlinear and reduced nestling body condition, first year survival and reproductive success. Our comprehensive study indicates that EPP should be favored for the 17% of females paired incestuously, but cannot explain the widespread infidelity in this species. Furthermore, our finding that fitness benefits of EPP only become apparent for a small part of the population could potentially explain the apparent absence of fitness differences in population wide comparisons of EPO and WPO.
Project description:Monogamy is associated with sibling-directed altruism in multiple animal taxa, including insects, birds and mammals. Inclusive-fitness theory readily explains this pattern by identifying high relatedness as a promoter of altruism. In keeping with this prediction, monogamy should promote the evolution of voluntary sterility in insect societies if sterile workers make for better helpers. However, a recent mathematical population-genetics analysis failed to identify a consistent effect of monogamy on voluntary worker sterility. Here, we revisit that analysis. First, we relax genetic assumptions, considering not only alleles of extreme effect-encoding either no sterility or complete sterility-but also alleles with intermediate effects on worker sterility. Second, we broaden the stability analysis-which focused on the invasibility of populations where either all workers are fully sterile or all workers are fully reproductive-to identify where intermediate pure or mixed evolutionarily stable states may occur. Third, we consider a broader range of demographically explicit ecological scenarios relevant to altruistic worker non-reproduction and to the evolution of eusociality more generally. We find that, in the absence of genetic constraints, monogamy always promotes altruistic worker sterility and may inhibit spiteful worker sterility. Our extended analysis demonstrates that an exact population-genetics approach strongly supports the prediction of inclusive-fitness theory that monogamy promotes sib-directed altruism in social insects.
Project description:Extra-pair paternity within socially monogamous mating systems is well studied in birds and mammals but rather neglected in other animal taxa. In fishes, social monogamy has evolved several times but few studies have investigated the extent to which pair-bonded male fish lose fertilizations to cuckolders and gain extra-pair fertilizations themselves. We address this gap and present genetic paternity data collected from a wild population of Variabilichromis moorii, a socially monogamous African cichlid with biparental care of offspring. We show that brood-tending, pair-bonded males suffer exceptionally high paternity losses, siring only 63% of the offspring produced by their female partners on average. The number of cuckolders per brood ranged up to nine and yet, surprisingly, brood-tending males in the population were rarely the culprits. Brood-tending males sired very few extra-pair offspring, despite breeding in close proximity to one another. While unpaired males were largely responsible for the cuckoldry, pair-bonded males still enjoyed higher fertilization success than individual unpaired males. We discuss these results in the context of ecological and phenotypic constraints on cuckoldry and the fitness payoffs of alternative male tactics. Our study provides new insights into how pair-bonded males handle the trade-off between securing within-pair and extra-pair reproduction.
Project description:Inbreeding increases parent-offspring relatedness and commonly reduces offspring viability, shaping selection on reproductive interactions involving relatives and associated parental investment (PI). Nevertheless, theories predicting selection for inbreeding versus inbreeding avoidance and selection for optimal PI have only been considered separately, precluding prediction of optimal PI and associated reproductive strategy given inbreeding. We unify inbreeding and PI theory, demonstrating that optimal PI increases when a female's inbreeding decreases the viability of her offspring. Inbreeding females should therefore produce fewer offspring due to the fundamental trade-off between offspring number and PI. Accordingly, selection for inbreeding versus inbreeding avoidance changes when females can adjust PI with the degree that they inbreed. By contrast, optimal PI does not depend on whether a focal female is herself inbred. However, inbreeding causes optimal PI to increase given strict monogamy and associated biparental investment compared with female-only investment. Our model implies that understanding evolutionary dynamics of inbreeding strategy, inbreeding depression, and PI requires joint consideration of the expression of each in relation to the other. Overall, we demonstrate that existing PI and inbreeding theories represent special cases of a more general theory, implying that intrinsic links between inbreeding and PI affect evolution of behaviour and intrafamilial conflict.
Project description:Inbreeding depression plays a major role in shaping mating systems: in particular, inbreeding avoidance is often proposed as a mechanism explaining extra-pair reproduction in socially monogamous species. This suggestion relies on assumptions that are rarely comprehensively tested: that inbreeding depression is present, that higher kinship between social partners increases infidelity, and that infidelity reduces the frequency of inbreeding. Here, we test these assumptions using 26 years of data for a cooperatively breeding, socially monogamous bird with high female infidelity, the superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus). Although inbred individuals were rare (?6% of offspring), we found evidence of inbreeding depression in nestling mass (but not in fledgling survival). Mother-son social pairings resulted in 100% infidelity, but kinship between a social pair did not otherwise predict female infidelity. Nevertheless, extra-pair offspring were less likely to be inbred than within-pair offspring. Finally, the social environment (the number of helpers in a group) did not affect offspring inbreeding coefficients or inbreeding depression levels. In conclusion, despite some agreement with the assumptions that are necessary for inbreeding avoidance to drive infidelity, the apparent scarcity of inbreeding events and the observed levels of inbreeding depression seem insufficient to explain the ubiquitous infidelity in this system, beyond the mother-son mating avoidance.
Project description: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.
Project description:Females of many socially monogamous species accept or even actively seek copulations outside the social pair bond. As females cannot increase the number of offspring with promiscuous behaviour, the question arises why they engage in extra-pair mating. We used microsatellite data to determine paternity, heterozygosity and genetic relatedness in the reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus), a species with high levels of extra-pair paternity (EPP). We found that extra-pair young (EPY) were more heterozygous than within-pair young (WPY). The high heterozygosity of the EPY resulted from a low genetic similarity between females and their extra-pair mates. EPY were heavier and larger when compared with their maternal half-siblings shortly before they left the nest. Recapture data indicated a higher fledgling survival of EPY compared with WPY. Our data suggest that reed bunting females increase the viability of their offspring and thus fitness through extra-pair mating with genetically dissimilar males.