Ecological and social constraints combine to promote evolution of non-breeding strategies in clownfish

Branconi, Rebecca, Barbasch, Tina A., Francis, Robin K., Srinivasan, Maya, Jones, Geoffrey P., and Buston, Peter M. (2020) Ecological and social constraints combine to promote evolution of non-breeding strategies in clownfish. Communications Biology, 3. 649.

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Individuals that forgo their own reproduction in animal societies represent an evolutionary paradox because it is not immediately apparent how natural selection can preserve the genes that underlie non-breeding strategies. Cooperative breeding theory provides a solution to the paradox: non-breeders benefit by helping relatives and/or inheriting breeding positions; non-breeders do not disperse to breed elsewhere because of ecological constraints. However, the question of why non-breeders do not contest to breed within their group has rarely been addressed. Here, we use a wild population of clownfish (Amphiprion percula), where non-breeders wait peacefully for years to inherit breeding positions, to show non-breeders will disperse when ecological constraints (risk of mortality during dispersal) are experimentally weakened. In addition, we show non-breeders will contest when social constraints (risk of eviction during contest) are experimentally relaxed. Our results show it is the combination of ecological and social constraints that promote the evolution of non-breeding strategies. The findings highlight parallels between, and potential for fruitful exchange between, cooperative breeding theory and economic bargaining theory: individuals will forgo their own reproduction and wait peacefully to inherit breeding positions (engage in cooperative options) when there are harsh ecological constraints (poor outside options) and harsh social constraints (poor inside options).

Item ID: 67778
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2399-3642
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2021 06:07
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310301 Behavioural ecology @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 30%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 40%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180506 Oceanic processes (excl. in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean) @ 30%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 30%
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