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Reproductive partitioning in communally breeding guira cuckoos, Guira guira

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Macedo, R. H. F., Cariello, M. O., Graves, J., & Schwabl, H. (2004). Reproductive partitioning in communally breeding guira cuckoos, Guira guira. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 55(3), 213-222. doi:10.1007/s00265-003-0697-x.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-12D5-4
Abstract
Guira cuckoos, Guira guira, exhibit a rare polygynandrous reproductive system with groups containing several male and female breeders, allowing for important tests of reproductive skew models. Female reproductive strategies involve leaving the group, varying clutch size, egg ejection and infanticide, among others. Here we examined the predictions of reproductive skew models relative to reproductive partitioning among females in groups. We used yolk protein electrophoresis to identify individual females' eggs in joint nests. We found that reproductive partitioning favors early-laying females, which lay and incubate more eggs than females that begin laying later. Because the female that lays first tends to switch between repeated nesting bouts, and females do not always contribute eggs to each bout, female reproductive success tends to equalize within groups over time. The pattern of reproductive partitioning differs from that described for anis, another crotophagine joint-nester. We calculated reproductive skew indices for groups in 2 years, for both laying and incubation, as well as an overall population value. These were compared to random skew generated by simulations. Varying degrees of skew were found for different groups, and also across sequential nesting bouts of the same groups. Overall, however, skew did not deviate from random within the population. Nests that reached incubation tended to have lower skew values during the laying phase than nests terminated due to ejection of all eggs followed by desertion. Groups had higher reproductive skew indices in their first nesting bout of the season, and these nests frequently failed. These results illustrate the importance of social organization in determining not only individual, but group success in reproduction, and highlight the flexibility of vertebrate social behavior.