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Title: Reproduction Within a Hierarchical Society from a Female’s Perspective
Abstract The reproductive biology of many female mammals is affected by their social environment and their interactions with conspecifics. In mammalian societies structured by linear dominance hierarchies, such as that of the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), a female’s social rank can have profound effects on both her reproductive success and her longevity. In this species, social rank determines priority of access to food, which is the resource limiting reproduction. Due largely to rank-related variation in access to food, reproduction from the perspective of a female spotted hyena can only be understood in the context of her position in the social hierarchy. In this review, we examine the effects of rank on the various phases of reproduction, from mating to weaning. Summed over many individual reproductive lifespans, the effect of rank at these different reproductive phases leads to dramatic rank-related variation in fitness among females and their lineages. Finally, we ask why females reproduce socially despite these apparent costs of group living to low-ranking females. Gregariousness enhances the fitness of females regardless of their positions in the social hierarchy, and females attempting to survive and reproduce without clanmates lose all their offspring. The positive effects of gregariousness appear to result from more » having female allies, both kin and non-kin, who cooperate to advertise and defend a shared territory, acquire, and defend food resources, maintain the status quo, and occasionally also to rise in social rank. « less
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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Integrative and Comparative Biology
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
753 to 764
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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