Reproductive sharing in relation to group and colony-level attributes in a cooperative breeding fish
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The degree to which group members share reproduction is dictated by both within-group (e.g. group size and composition) and between-group(e.g. density and position of neighbours) characteristics. While many studies have investigated reproductive patterns within social groups, few have simultaneously explored how within-group and between-group social structure influence these patterns. Here, we investigated how group size and composition, along with territory density and location within the colony, influenced parentage in 36 wild groups of a colonial, cooperatively breeding fish Neolamprologus pulcher. Dominant males sired 76% of offspring in their group, whereas dominant females mothered 82% of offspring in their group. Subordinate reproduction was frequent, occurring in 47% of sampled groups. Subordinate males gained more paternity in groups located in high-density areas and in groups with many subordinate males. Dominant males and females in large groups and in groups with many reproductively mature subordinates had higher rates of parentage loss, but only at the colony edge. Our study provides, to our knowledge,the first comprehensive quantification of reproductive sharing among groups of wild N. pulcher, a model species for the study of cooperation and social behaviour. Further, we demonstrate that the frequency of extra-pair parentage differs across small social and spatial scales.
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