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Patterns of Reproductive Skew in the Polygynandrous Acorn Woodpecker

Joseph Haydock and Walter D. Koenig
The American Naturalist
Vol. 162, No. 3 (September 2003), pp. 277-289
DOI: 10.1086/376888
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/376888
Page Count: 13
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Patterns of Reproductive Skew in the Polygynandrous Acorn Woodpecker
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Abstract

Abstract: We compared observed levels of reproductive skew in the cooperatively breeding acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) with those predicted by two alternative transactional models. “Concession” models predict the degree to which parentage is shared assuming that a single dominant is in complete control of reproduction. Alternatively, “restraint” models predict reproductive sharing assuming that the dominant controls only whether subordinates remain in the group but does not control its share of reproduction. Reproductive skew is high among males: on average, the most successful male sires more than three times as many offspring as the next most successful male. Females share parentage equally and have lower constraints on dispersal and lower survival rates compared with males, which is consistent with predictions from the concessions model. Also as predicted by the concessions model, yearly variation in opportunities for dispersal before the breeding season correlates positively with skew. However, in contrast to concessions but consistent with the restraint model, skew decreases with relatedness. Thus, neither model consistently predicts patterns of reproductive skew in this species. We suggest that models of reproductive skew will need to include competitive interactions among potential breeders and mate choice before they will adequately predict patterns of reproductive partitioning in most vertebrate societies.

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