Monogamy without parental care? Social and genetic mating systems of avian brood parasites.
ABSTRACT: Classic evolutionary theory predicts that monogamy should be intimately linked with parental care. It has long been assumed, therefore, that avian brood parasites-which lay their eggs in the nests of 'host' species and provide little, if any, parental care-should be overwhelmingly promiscuous. However, recent studies have revealed that the social mating systems of brood parasites are surprisingly diverse, encompassing lek polygyny, monogamy, polygamy and promiscuity. What ecological or phylogenetic factors explain this variation, and why are some brood parasites apparently monogamous? Here we review the social and genetic mating systems of all 75 brood parasitic species for which data are available and evaluate several hypotheses that may help explain these patterns. We find that social monogamy is widespread, often co-occurring with territoriality and cooperative behaviour by the mated pair. Comparative studies, though preliminary, suggest that in some species, monogamy is associated with low host density and polygamy with higher host density. Interestingly, molecular data show that genetic and social mating systems can be entirely decoupled: genetic monogamy can occur in parasitic species that lack behavioural pair-bonds, possibly as a by-product of territoriality; conversely, social monogamy has been reported in parasites that are genetically polygamous. This synthesis suggests that social and genetic monogamy may result from very different selective pressures, and that male-female cooperative behaviours, population density and territoriality may all interact to favour the evolution of monogamous mating in brood parasites. Given that detailed descriptive data of social, and especially genetic, mating systems are still lacking for the majority of brood parasitic species, definitive tests of these hypotheses await future work. This article is part of the theme issue 'The coevolutionary biology of brood parasitism: from mechanism to pattern'.
Project description:Social monogamy, typically characterized by the formation of a pair bond, increased territorial defense, and often biparental care, has independently evolved multiple times in animals. Despite the independent evolutionary origins of monogamous mating systems, several homologous brain regions and neuropeptides and their receptors have been shown to play a conserved role in regulating social affiliation and parental care, but little is known about the neuromolecular mechanisms underlying monogamy on a genomic scale. Here, we compare neural transcriptomes of reproductive males in monogamous and nonmonogamous species pairs of Peromyscus mice, Microtus voles, parid songbirds, dendrobatid frogs, and Xenotilapia species of cichlid fishes. We find that, while evolutionary divergence time between species or clades did not explain gene expression similarity, characteristics of the mating system correlated with neural gene expression patterns, and neural gene expression varied concordantly across vertebrates when species transition to monogamy. Our study provides evidence of a universal transcriptomic mechanism underlying the evolution of monogamy in vertebrates.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Phylogenetic analyses strongly associate nonsocial ancestors of cooperatively-breeding or eusocial species with monogamy. Because monogamy creates high-relatedness family groups, kin selection has been concluded to drive the evolution of cooperative breeding (i.e., the monogamy hypothesis). Although kin selection is criticized as inappropriate for modeling and predicting the evolution of cooperation, there are no examples where specific inclusive fitness-based predictions are intrinsically wrong. The monogamy hypothesis may be the first case of such a flawed calculation. RESULTS: A simulation model mutated helping alleles into non-cooperative populations where females mated either once or multiply. Although multiple mating produces sibling broods of lower relatedness, it also increases the likelihood that one offspring will adopt a helper role. Examining this tradeoff showed that under a wide range of conditions polygamy, rather than monogamy, allowed helping to spread more rapidly through populations. Further simulations with mating strategies as heritable traits confirmed that multiple-mating is selectively advantageous. Although cooperation evolves similarly regardless of whether dependent young are close or more distant kin, it does not evolve if they are unrelated. CONCLUSIONS: The solitary ancestral species to cooperative breeders may have been predominantly monogamous, but it cannot be concluded that monogamy is a predisposing state for the evolution of helping behavior. Monogamy may simply be coincidental to other more important life history characteristics such as nest defense or sequential provisioning of offspring. The differing predictive outcome from a gene-based model also supports arguments that inclusive fitness formulations poorly model some evolutionary questions. Nevertheless, cooperation only evolves when benefits are provided for kin: helping alleles did not increase in frequency in the absence of potential gains in indirect fitness. The key question, therefore, is not whether kin selection occurs, but how best to elucidate the differing evolutionary advantages of genetic relatedness versus genetic diversity.
Project description:In all comparative analyses, humans always fall on the borderline between obligate monogamy and polygamy. Here, we use behavioural indices (sociosexuality) and anatomical indices (prenatal testosterone exposure indexed by 2D : 4D digit ratio) from three human populations to show that this may be because there are two distinct phenotypes in both sexes. While males are more promiscuous and display higher prenatal testosterone exposure than females overall, our analyses also suggest that the within-sex variation of these variables is best described by two underlying mixture models, suggesting the presence of two phenotypes with a monogamous/promiscuous ratio that slightly favours monogamy in females and promiscuity in males. The presence of two phenotypes implies that mating strategy might be under complex frequency-dependent selection.
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:We measured gene expression of D. melanogaster female heads and abdomens after mating with males from six populations evolved under either enforced monogamy (no male-male competition, 3 populations) or sustained polygamy (intense male-male competition, 3 populations). Overall design: Three samples of virgin female heads and six samples of mated female heads (one each per male evolved population, of which there are three monogamous and three polygamous), for nine libraries. Also, three samples of virgin female abdomens and six samples of mated female abdomens (one each per male evolved population, of which there are three monogamous and three polygamous), for nine libraries. In total, eighteen libraries sequenced in 8 lanes.
Project description: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:Despite its well-described role in female affiliation, the influence of oxytocin on male pairbonding is largely unknown. However, recent human studies indicate that this nonapeptide has a potent influence on male behaviors commonly associated with monogamy. Here we investigated the distribution of oxytocin receptors (OTR) throughout the forebrain of the socially monogamous male prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster). Because males vary in both sexual and spatial fidelity, we explored the extent to which OTR predicted monogamous or non-monogamous patterns of space use, mating success and sexual fidelity in free-living males. We found that monogamous males expressed higher OTR density in the nucleus accumbens than non-monogamous males, a result that mirrors species differences in voles with different mating systems. OTR density in the posterior portion of the insula predicted mating success. Finally, OTR in the hippocampus and septohippocampal nucleus, which are nuclei associated with spatial memory, predicted patterns of space use and reproductive success within mating tactics. Our data highlight the importance of oxytocin receptor in neural structures associated with pairbonding and socio-spatial memory in male mating tactics. The role of memory in mating systems is often neglected, despite the fact that mating tactics impose an inherently spatial challenge for animals. Identifying mechanisms responsible for relating information about the social world with mechanisms mediating pairbonding and mating tactics is crucial to fully appreciate the suite of factors driving mating systems. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Oxytocin, Vasopressin, and Social Behavior.
Project description:Throughout the animal kingdom, we know many examples of mating system evolution that exemplify adaptive responses to changes in the environment, yet our understanding of the accompanying neural and molecular mechanisms that give rise to such behavioral changes remains understudied. In the present study we aimed to define the molecular basis of interspecific variation in social organization in Ectodini cichlids from Lake Tanganyika. We selected four closely related species that represent two independent evolutions of monogamy: the polygynous Xenotilapia ochrogenys, the monogamous Xenotilapia flavipinnis, the polygynous Microdontochromis tenuidentata and the monogamous Asprotilapia leptura. Using a single cichlid microarray platform, we conducted a total of 28 direct comparisons for neural gene expression level among males and 26 among females of four species that represent 2 independent evolutions of monogamy. Our results indicate the gene expression profiles display remarkable plasticity across different time scales because we find differences associated with sex, mating system, and lineage. Overall design: We used a nested loop design with dye-swap to emphasize within-lineage comparison between species of different mating strategies. This data series represents males and females only and includes, for each sex, 9 arrays comparing inidividuals from 2 differeent species with different mating types (monogomous and polygamous)within the xenotilaipa lineage and 9 arrays comparing individuals from two different species of different mating types (polygamovus vs. monogomous) in the non-xenotilapia-lineage. There are 8 hybridizations that compare between the two lineages 4 of which are within-mating strategy and 4 of which are between mating strategy. Features have been filtered for sequence conservation across species under study.
Project description:Interspecific interactions are contingent upon organism phenotypes, and thus phenotypic evolution can modify interspecific interactions and affect ecological dynamics. Recent studies have suggested that male-male competition within a species selects for capability to reproductively interfere with a closely related species. Here, we examine the effect of past evolutionary history under different mating regimes on the demographic dynamics of interspecific competition in Callosobruchus seed beetles. We used previously established experimental evolution lines of Callosobruchus chinensis that evolved under either forced lifelong monogamy or polygamy for 17 generations, and examined the demographic dynamics of competition between these C. chinensis lines and a congener, Callosobruchus maculatus. Callosobruchus chinensis was competitively excluded by C. maculatus in all trials. Time series data analyses suggested that reproductive interference from C. chinensis was relatively more important in the trials involving polygamous C. chinensis than those involving monogamous C. chinensis, in accordance with the potentially higher reproductive interference capability of polygamous C. chinensis. However, the estimated signs and magnitudes of interspecific interactions were not fully consistent with this explanation, implying the evolution of not only reproductive interference but also other interaction mechanisms. Our study thus suggests multifaceted effects of sexually selected traits on interspecific competitive dynamics.
Project description:Recent anthropological findings document how certain lowland South American societies hold beliefs in 'partible paternity', which allow children to have more than one 'biological' father. This contrasts with Western beliefs in 'singular paternity', and biological reality, where children have just one father. Here, mathematical models are used to explore the coevolution of paternity beliefs and the genetic variation underlying human mating behaviour. A gene-culture coevolutionary model found that populations exposed to a range of selection regimes typically converge on one of two simultaneously stable equilibria; one where the population is monogamous and believes in singular paternity, and the other where the population is polygamous and believes in partible paternity. A second agent-based model, with alternative assumptions regarding the formation of mating consortships, broadly replicated this finding in populations with a strongly female-biased sex ratio, consistent with evidence for high adult male mortality in the region. This supports an evolutionary scenario in which ancestral South American populations with differing paternity beliefs were subject to divergent selection on genetically influenced mating behaviour, facilitated by a female-biased sex ratio, leading to the present-day associations of female control, partible paternity and polygamy in some societies, and male control, singular paternity and monogamy in others.