Female aggression predicts mode of paternity acquisition in a social lizard
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While, GM and Sinn, DL and Wapstra, E, Female aggression predicts mode of paternity acquisition in a social lizard, Proceedings of The Royal Society. Biological Sciences, 276, (1664) pp. 2021-2029. ISSN 0962-8452 (2009) [Refereed Article]
Individual differences in behaviour are ubiquitous in nature. Despite the likely role of selection in maintaining these differences, there are few demonstrations of their fitness consequences in wild populations and, consequently, the mechanisms that link behavioural variation to variation in fitness are poorly understood. Specifically, the consequences of consistent individual differences in behaviour for the evolution of social and mating strategies have rarely been considered. We examined the functional links between variation in female aggression and her social and mating strategies in a wild population of the social lizard Egernia whitii. We show that female Egernia exhibit temporally consistent aggressive phenotypes, which are unrelated to body size, territory size or social density. A female's aggressive phenotype, however, has strong links to her mode of paternity acquisition (within- versus extra-pair paternity), with more aggressive females having more offspring sired by extra-pair males than less aggressive females. We discuss the potential mechanisms by which female aggression could underpin mating strategies, such as the pursuit/acceptance of extra-pair copulations. We propose that a deeper understanding of the evolution and maintenance of social and mating systems may result from an explicit focus on individual-level female behavioural phenotypes and their relationship with key reproductive strategies. © 2009 The Royal Society.
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