K. A Stiver, J. Fitzpatrick, J. K Desjardins, and S. Balshine (2006)
Sex differences in rates of territory joining and inheritance in a cooperatively breeding cichlid fish
Animal Behaviour, 71:449-456.
In social groups, subordinates may gain dominant breeding status either by inheriting the top position in their current group or by dispersing to join a new group. The pathway to breeder status is likely to vary between males and females as a result of sex differences in the costs of dispersal and inbreeding. We report results from a field study conducted to explore sex differences in the rates of territory joining and inheritance in a cooperatively breeding cichlid, Neolamprologus pulcher. We experimentally created 34 breeding vacancies and investigated the effects of breeder removal on the degree of cooperative behaviour and how changes in status influenced reproductive physiology. We found that 71\% of male vacancies were filled by joiners (incoming fish, not previously members of the group) entering the territory. In contrast, only 15\% of female vacancies were filled by joiners entering the group from elsewhere. Helpers increased their frequency of cooperative behaviour following the removal of a female breeder, but not following removal of a male breeder. Our results suggest that female breeder vacancies are typically filled by subordinate helpers who inherit from within the group and that male breeder vacancies are commonly filled by joining individuals (existing breeders or former helpers from other groups). Male social status and gonadal investment were positively correlated. This study represents one of the first experimental attempts to examine sexual differences in the pathway to breeding status in a cooperatively breeding species. (c) 2006 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.