Intrasexual competition and sexual selection in cooperative mammals

  • Clutton-Brock T
  • Hodge S
  • Spong G
 et al. 
  • 531

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 158

    Citations

    Citations of this article.

Abstract

In most animals, the sex that invests least in its offspring competes more intensely for access to the opposite sex and shows greater development of secondary sexual characters than the sex that invests most. However, in some mammals where females are the primary care-givers, females compete more frequently or intensely with each other than males. A possible explanation is that, in these species, the resources necessary for successful female reproduction are heavily concentrated and intrasexual competition for breeding opportunities is more intense among females than among males. Intrasexual competition between females is likely to be particularly intense in cooperative breeders where a single female monopolizes reproduction in each group. Here, we use data from a twelve-year study of wild meerkats (Suricata suricatta), where females show high levels of reproductive skew, to show that females gain greater benefits from acquiring dominant status than males and traits that increase competitive ability exert a stronger influence on their breeding success. Females that acquire dominant status also develop a suite of morphological, physiological and behavioural characteristics that help them to control other group members. Our results show that sex differences in parental investment are not the only mechanism capable of generating sex differences in reproductive competition and emphasize the extent to which competition for breeding opportunities between females can affect the evolution of sex differences and the operation of sexual selection.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text

Authors

  • T. H. Clutton-Brock

  • S. J. Hodge

  • G. Spong

  • A. F. Russell

  • N. R. Jordan

  • N. C. Bennett

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free