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Mol Ecol. 2011 Apr;20(8):1759-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05056.x. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Strong male/male competition allows for nonchoosy females: high levels of polygynandry in a territorial frog with paternal care.

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Department of Evolutionary Biology, University of Vienna, Althanstraße 14, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


Our knowledge about genetic mating systems and the underlying causes for and consequences of variation in reproductive success has substantially improved in recent years. When linked to longitudinal population studies, cross-generational pedigrees across wild populations can help answer a wide suite of questions in ecology and evolutionary biology. We used microsatellite markers and exhaustive sampling of two successive adult generations to obtain population-wide estimates of individual reproductive output of males and females in a natural population of the Neotropical frog Allobates femoralis (Aromobatidae), a pan-Amazonian species that features prolonged iteroparous breeding, male territoriality and male parental care. Parentage analysis revealed a polygynandrous mating system in which high proportions of males (35.5%) and females (56.0%) produced progeny that survived until adulthood. Despite contrasting reproductive strategies, successfully reproducing males and females had similar numbers of mating partners that sired the adult progeny (both sexes: median 2; range 1-6); the numbers of their offspring that reached adulthood were also similar (both sexes: median 2; range 1-8). Measures of reproductive skew indicate selection on males only for their opportunity to breed. Reproductive success was significantly higher in territorial than in nonterritorial males, but unrelated to territory size in males or to body size in both sexes. We hypothesize that female polyandry in this species has evolved because of enhanced offspring survival when paternal care is allocated to multiple partners.

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