Abstracts (first author)


Promiscuity and evolution of cooperative neighbourhoods

Author(s): Eliassen S, Jørgensen C


A striking but unexplained pattern in biology is the widespread promiscuity in socially monogamous species. Although females commonly solicit extra-pair copulations, the adaptive reason has been elusive. We use evolutionary modelling of breeding ecology to show that females benefit because extra-pair paternity incentivizes males to shift focus from a single brood towards the entire neighbourhood, as they are likely to have offspring there. Male-male cooperation towards public goods and dear enemy effects of reduced territorial aggression evolve from selfish interests, and lead to safer and more productive neighbourhoods. Using a set of theoretical simulation models, we predict sex-specific cooperative behaviours at breeding sites where males cooperate more towards public goods than females. The mechanism provides adaptive explanations for the common empirical observations that females solicit extra-pair copulations and that neighbours dominate as extra-pair sires. Derived from ecological mechanisms, these new perspectives point towards the evolution of sociality in birds, mammals, and primates, including humans.

Abstracts (coauthor)


There is a range of bird mating systems and sex roles, from true genetic monogamy, via social monogamy with extra-pair mating, lekking, and through to group breeding. We explain this continuum from ecological factors using evolutionary simulation models with typical reproductive trade-offs. The key mechanism is that extra-pair mating may trigger male-male cooperation, because extra-pair males benefit from diverting their behavioural efforts towards the neighbourhood where they potentially have offspring rather than monopolizing it towards their domestic nest. For species with high mortality, extra-pair mating and cooperative behaviours dominate, and where extra-pair mating is very high the model’s predicted mating system resembles group breeding. For long-lived species there are two clusters of viable mating systems: lekking is predicted if females can raise the brood alone, whereas genetic monogamy is predicted where single parenting is unable to raise viable offspring, as in many seabirds. The prospect of predictively relating ecological factors to emergent breeding systems may have transferable value also for other taxa.


Chairman: Octávio S. Paulo
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XIV Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology

Organization Team
Department of Animal Biology (DBA)
Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon
P-1749-016 Lisbon


Computational Biology & Population Genomics Group