The evolution of sociality in small, carnivorous marsupials: The lek hypothesis revisited

Fisher, Diana O., Nuske, Susan, Green, Sally, Seddon, Jennifer M. and McDonald, Brenda (2011) The evolution of sociality in small, carnivorous marsupials: The lek hypothesis revisited. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65 4: 593-605. doi:10.1007/s00265-010-1060-7

Author Fisher, Diana O.
Nuske, Susan
Green, Sally
Seddon, Jennifer M.
McDonald, Brenda
Title The evolution of sociality in small, carnivorous marsupials: The lek hypothesis revisited
Journal name Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0340-5443
Publication date 2011-04
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00265-010-1060-7
Volume 65
Issue 4
Start page 593
End page 605
Total pages 13
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Subject C1
970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
060304 Ethology and Sociobiology
Formatted abstract
One of the few mammal species reported to have a mating system of lek promiscuity is the tree-hollow nesting marsupial, the agile antechinus, Antechinus agilis. Past conclusions about its mating system have been based on seasonal changes in social group size, sex-specific nest switching and space use. Thermoregulation has also been suggested as an explanation for variation in social behaviour in this species and its relatives. We tested predictions of the lekking and thermoregulation hypotheses to explain sociality in cavity nesting antechinuses using published data, and new data on brown and subtropical antechinuses. We found that across four species, social group size is negatively correlated with daily minimum temperature, but not with timing of breeding. Females have a matrilineal fission–fusion social system, which continues during the brief mating season, and males range increasingly further throughout their lives, contacting as many females as possible in nests. Males show no indication of fission–fusion sociality. All evidence in species other than A. agilis, and some data on A. agilis, indicate a mating system of scramble polygyny, and not lek promiscuity. We conclude that across species, thermoregulation is the main reason for seasonal variation in nesting group size in both sexes.

Keyword Lek
Fusion social organisation
Mating system
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online: 16 September 2010

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
ERA 2012 Admin Only
School of Biological Sciences Publications
School of Veterinary Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 5 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 12 Oct 2010, 16:29:02 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences