Evol Ecol Res 1: 859-874 (1999)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Reproductive skew theory extended: The effect of resource inheritance on social organization

Janice E. Ragsdale*

Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA

e-mail: ragsdale@biology.utah.edu


In social species, resource inheritance is a common and widespread phenomenon. Potential inheritance payoffs may influence an animal’s decision of whether to attempt individual reproduction, or to associate with a resource owner as a hopeful reproductive. These alternative reproductive decisions form the crux of reproductive skew theory (RST), which predicts if groups will form and, if so, the extent that reproduction is shared, given the ecological constraints, cooperative benefits, relatedness and relative fighting abilities of group members. I extend RST to include resource inheritance, a form of future direct benefits. Resource inheritance allows relaxation of one restrictive assumption of other RST models, the cooperative benefits assumption. Furthermore, with resource inheritance, stable associations will form over a greater range of conditions than that found in previous models, thus reducing the need for a ‘social contract’. Inclusion of resource inheritance generates predictions that are relevant to many social systems, including (under some conditions) parental facilitation, ‘lazy workers’, helping for ‘payment’, and complete skew when relatedness is zero or cooperative benefits are absent. The model has general applications because the resource inheritance parameter represents any form of future benefits arising from social associations.

Keywords: future fitness, queue, reproductive skew, resource inheritance, social organization.

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