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An experimental test of relatedness-based mate discrimination in a social lizard


Bordogna, G and Cunningham, G and Fitzpatrick, LJ and Halliwell, B and MacGregor, HEA and Munch, KL and Wapstra, E and While, GM, An experimental test of relatedness-based mate discrimination in a social lizard, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 70, (12) pp. 2139-2147. ISSN 0340-5443 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

DOI: doi:10.1007/s00265-016-2217-9


One of the major decisions individuals of many species make when deciding who to mate with is whether or not to inbreed. The prevailing theory is that individuals should avoid mating with closely related individuals because of the fitness costs associated with decreased offspring quality. However, theoretical work has suggested that levels of inbreeding depression need to be considerable for these costs to outweigh the possible, kin selected, benefits of inbreeding. While evidence for a preference for inbreeding exists in the literature, empirical results currently lag well behind theory. Here, we conducted an experiment to examine mate discrimination and preference with respect to relatedness in a natural population of the family living lizard, Liopholis whitii. We show that both male and female L. whitii distinguish between related and unrelated individuals and, furthermore, that both sexes preferentially associate with more closely related members of the opposite sex. These results correspond closely with patterns of pairing observed in the wild where both males and females have been shown to choose mating pairs that are more closely related to them than expected by chance. Combined, our findings suggest that mate choice in this system may represent an active preference for mating with related individuals rather than a result of passive constraints associated with population viscosity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:inbreeding avoidance, inbreeding preference, mate choice, Egernia, kin discrimination
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Bordogna, G (Ms Genevieve Bordogna)
UTAS Author:Cunningham, G (Mr George Cunningham)
UTAS Author:Fitzpatrick, LJ (Ms Luisa Fitzpatrick)
UTAS Author:Halliwell, B (Mr Benjamin Halliwell)
UTAS Author:MacGregor, HEA (Ms Hannah MacGregor)
UTAS Author:Munch, KL (Ms Kirke Munch)
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Associate Professor Erik Wapstra)
UTAS Author:While, GM (Dr Geoff While)
ID Code:111621
Year Published:2016
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE150100336)
Web of Science® Times Cited:7
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2016-09-26
Last Modified:2017-10-31

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