Activity predicts male reproductive success in a polygynous lizard

J. Scott Keogh, Daniel W. A. Noble, Eleanor E. Wilson, Martin J. Whiting

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    27 Citations (Scopus)
    13 Downloads (Pure)


    Activity patterns and social interactions play a key role in determining reproductive success, although this is poorly understood for species that lack overt social behaviour. We used genetic paternity analysis to quantify both multiple paternity and the relative roles of activity and social behaviour in determining reproductive success in a nondescript Australian lizard. During the breeding season we intensively followed and recorded the behaviour of a group of seven males and 13 females in a naturalistic outdoor enclosure to examine the relative roles of body size, activity and social interactions in determining male fertilization success. We found multiple paternity in 42% of clutches. No single behaviour was a significant predictor of male fertilization success in isolation, but male-female association, interactions and courtship explained 41% of the variation in male fertilization success. Males with the highest number of offspring sired invested heavily in interacting with females but spent very little time in interactions with males. These same males also sired offspring from more clutches. When taken collectively, an index of overall male activity, including locomotion and all social interactions, significantly explained 81% of the variation in the total number of offspring sired and 90% of the variation in the number of clutches in which males sired offspring. We suggest that the most successful male strategy is a form of endurance rivalry in which active mate searching and interactions with females have the greatest fitness benefits.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere38856
    Pages (from-to)1-5
    Number of pages5
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2012

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) [2012]. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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