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Sociality, mating system and reproductive skew in marmots: evidence and hypotheses

Abstract : Marmot species exhibit a great diversity of social structure, mating systems and reproductive skew. In particular, among the social species (i.e. all except Marmota monax), the yellow-bellied marmot appears quite different from the others. The yellow-bellied marmot is primarily polygynous with an intermediate level of sociality and low reproductive skew among females. In contrast, all other social marmot species are mainly monogamous, highly social and with marked reproductive skew among females. To understand the evolution of this difference in reproductive skew, I examined four possible explanations identified From reproductive skew theory. From the literature, I then reviewed evidence to investigate if marmot species differ in: (1) the ability of dominants to control the reproduction of subordinates; (2) the degree of relatedness between group members; (3) the benefit for subordinates of remaining in the social group; and (4) the benefit for dominants of retaining subordinates. I found that the optimal skew hypothesis may apply for both sets of species. I suggest that yellow-bellied marmot females may benefit from retaining subordinate females and in return have to concede them reproduction. On the contrary, monogamous marmot species may gain by suppressing the reproduction of subordinate females to maximise the efficiency of social thermoregulation, even at the risk of departure of subordinate females from the family group. Finally, I discuss scenarios for the simultaneous evolution of sociality, monogamy and reproductive skew in marmots. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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Contributor : Kim Pla Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Friday, July 11, 2008 - 3:52:47 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 12:00:58 PM

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D. Allaine. Sociality, mating system and reproductive skew in marmots: evidence and hypotheses. Behavioural Processes, Elsevier, 2000, 51 (1-3), pp.21-34. ⟨10.1016/S0376-6357(00)00116-9⟩. ⟨halsde-00295510⟩



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