Social structure influences extra-pair paternity in socially monogamous mammals


The Royal Society


Using the genetic estimates of paternity available for 22 species of socially monogamous mammals, we investigated the impact of the social structure and of the type of pair bonding on the interspecific variations of extra-pair paternity rates. To this purpose, we classified species in three categories of social structure—solitary, pair or family-living species—and in two categories of pair bonding—intermittent or continuous. We show that interspecific variations of extra-pair paternity rates are better explained by the social structure than by the type of pair bonding. Species with intermittent and continuous pair bonding present similar rates of extra-pair paternity, while solitary and family-living species present higher extra-pair paternity rates than pair-living species. This can be explained by both higher male–male competition and higher female mate choice opportunities in solitary and family-living species than in pair-living species.

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