Reproductive skew and relatedness in social groups of European badgers, Meles meles

Dugdale, Hannah L., Macdonald, David W., Pope, Lisa C., Johnson, Paul J. and Burke, Terry (2008) Reproductive skew and relatedness in social groups of European badgers, Meles meles. Molecular Ecology, 17 7: 1815-1827. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2008.03708.x

Author Dugdale, Hannah L.
Macdonald, David W.
Pope, Lisa C.
Johnson, Paul J.
Burke, Terry
Title Reproductive skew and relatedness in social groups of European badgers, Meles meles
Journal name Molecular Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0962-1083
Publication date 2008-04-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2008.03708.x
Volume 17
Issue 7
Start page 1815
End page 1827
Total pages 13
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Reproductive skew is a measure of the proportion of individuals of each sex that breed in a group and is a valuable measure for understanding the evolution and maintenance of sociality. Here, we provide the first quantification of reproductive skew within social groups of European badgers Meles meles, throughout an 18-year study in a high-density population. We used 22 microsatellite loci to analyse within-group relatedness and demonstrated that badger groups contained relatives. The average within-group relatedness was high (R = 0.20) and approximately one-third of within-group dyads were more likely to represent first-order kin than unrelated pairs. Adult females within groups had higher pairwise relatedness than adult males, due to the high frequency of extra-group paternities, rather than permanent physical dispersal. Spatial clustering of relatives occurred among neighbouring groups, which we suggest was due to the majority of extra-group paternities being attributable to neighbouring males. Reproductive skew was found among within-group candidate fathers (B = 0.26) and candidate mothers
(B = 0.07), but not among breeding individuals; our power to detect skew in the latter was low.

We use these results to evaluate reproductive skew models. Although badger society best fits the assumptions of the incomplete-control models, our results were not consistent with their predictions. We suggest that this may be due to female control of paternity, female–female reproductive suppression occurring only in years with high food availability resulting in competition over access to breeding sites, extra-group paternity masking the benefits of natal philopatry, and/or the inconsistent occurrence of hierarchies that are linear when established. 
Keyword Binomial skew index
European badger Meles meles
Reproductive suppression
Within group relatedness
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Biological Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 33 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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