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Suppressing subordinate reproduction provides benefits to dominants in cooperative societies of meerkats.

Bell MB, Cant MA, Borgeaud C, Thavarajah N, Samson J, Clutton-Brock TH - Nat Commun (2014)

Bottom Line: Theory assumes that this is because subordinate reproduction depresses the fitness of dominants, yet the effect of subordinate reproduction on dominant behaviour and reproductive success has never been directly assessed.When subordinate breeding is suppressed, dominants also show improved foraging efficiency, gain more weight during pregnancy and produce heavier pups, which grow faster.These results confirm the benefits of suppression to dominants, and help explain the evolution of singular breeding in vertebrate societies.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: 1] Department of Zoology, Large Animal Research Group, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK [2].

ABSTRACT
In many animal societies, a small proportion of dominant females monopolize reproduction by actively suppressing subordinates. Theory assumes that this is because subordinate reproduction depresses the fitness of dominants, yet the effect of subordinate reproduction on dominant behaviour and reproductive success has never been directly assessed. Here, we describe the consequences of experimentally preventing subordinate breeding in 12 groups of wild meerkats (Suricata suricatta) for three breeding attempts, using contraceptive injections. When subordinates are prevented from breeding, dominants are less aggressive towards subordinates and evict them less often, leading to a higher ratio of helpers to dependent pups, and increased provisioning of the dominant's pups by subordinate females. When subordinate breeding is suppressed, dominants also show improved foraging efficiency, gain more weight during pregnancy and produce heavier pups, which grow faster. These results confirm the benefits of suppression to dominants, and help explain the evolution of singular breeding in vertebrate societies.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

The effect of experimental suppression of subordinate female reproduction on dominant pup growth between emergence and nutritional independence.Analysis conducted on 7,620 morning weights, taken from 241 pups (141 males, 100 females) from 59 litters (26 Treated and 33 Control), born to 12 dominant females. Data points are average weights for all pups weighed at that age (±s.e.), lines are predicted means generated by the model.
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f3: The effect of experimental suppression of subordinate female reproduction on dominant pup growth between emergence and nutritional independence.Analysis conducted on 7,620 morning weights, taken from 241 pups (141 males, 100 females) from 59 litters (26 Treated and 33 Control), born to 12 dominant females. Data points are average weights for all pups weighed at that age (±s.e.), lines are predicted means generated by the model.

Mentions: Pups in treated groups started life heavier, but were also in groups with more helpers, many of whom were feeding at higher rates, so we expected them to show elevated growth rates after emergence. Analysis of pup morning weight revealed that pups in treated groups grew faster between emergence and 95 days (LMM interaction between treatment and age F1,7619=4.35, P=0.03; interaction between treatment and age2 F1,7619=30.66, P<0.001; Fig. 3; Supplementary Table 14). Pup weight at emergence and independence is likely to have profound long term effects on pup fitness: size at emergence determines competitive ability in early life18; experimental feeding to increase pup weight increases survival24; and size at adulthood affects probability of attaining dominance, dominance tenure and reproductive success29.


Suppressing subordinate reproduction provides benefits to dominants in cooperative societies of meerkats.

Bell MB, Cant MA, Borgeaud C, Thavarajah N, Samson J, Clutton-Brock TH - Nat Commun (2014)

The effect of experimental suppression of subordinate female reproduction on dominant pup growth between emergence and nutritional independence.Analysis conducted on 7,620 morning weights, taken from 241 pups (141 males, 100 females) from 59 litters (26 Treated and 33 Control), born to 12 dominant females. Data points are average weights for all pups weighed at that age (±s.e.), lines are predicted means generated by the model.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4109011&req=5

f3: The effect of experimental suppression of subordinate female reproduction on dominant pup growth between emergence and nutritional independence.Analysis conducted on 7,620 morning weights, taken from 241 pups (141 males, 100 females) from 59 litters (26 Treated and 33 Control), born to 12 dominant females. Data points are average weights for all pups weighed at that age (±s.e.), lines are predicted means generated by the model.
Mentions: Pups in treated groups started life heavier, but were also in groups with more helpers, many of whom were feeding at higher rates, so we expected them to show elevated growth rates after emergence. Analysis of pup morning weight revealed that pups in treated groups grew faster between emergence and 95 days (LMM interaction between treatment and age F1,7619=4.35, P=0.03; interaction between treatment and age2 F1,7619=30.66, P<0.001; Fig. 3; Supplementary Table 14). Pup weight at emergence and independence is likely to have profound long term effects on pup fitness: size at emergence determines competitive ability in early life18; experimental feeding to increase pup weight increases survival24; and size at adulthood affects probability of attaining dominance, dominance tenure and reproductive success29.

Bottom Line: Theory assumes that this is because subordinate reproduction depresses the fitness of dominants, yet the effect of subordinate reproduction on dominant behaviour and reproductive success has never been directly assessed.When subordinate breeding is suppressed, dominants also show improved foraging efficiency, gain more weight during pregnancy and produce heavier pups, which grow faster.These results confirm the benefits of suppression to dominants, and help explain the evolution of singular breeding in vertebrate societies.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: 1] Department of Zoology, Large Animal Research Group, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK [2].

ABSTRACT
In many animal societies, a small proportion of dominant females monopolize reproduction by actively suppressing subordinates. Theory assumes that this is because subordinate reproduction depresses the fitness of dominants, yet the effect of subordinate reproduction on dominant behaviour and reproductive success has never been directly assessed. Here, we describe the consequences of experimentally preventing subordinate breeding in 12 groups of wild meerkats (Suricata suricatta) for three breeding attempts, using contraceptive injections. When subordinates are prevented from breeding, dominants are less aggressive towards subordinates and evict them less often, leading to a higher ratio of helpers to dependent pups, and increased provisioning of the dominant's pups by subordinate females. When subordinate breeding is suppressed, dominants also show improved foraging efficiency, gain more weight during pregnancy and produce heavier pups, which grow faster. These results confirm the benefits of suppression to dominants, and help explain the evolution of singular breeding in vertebrate societies.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus