Evidence for frequent incest in a cooperatively breeding mammal
Cant, Michael A.
The Royal Society
Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
As breeding between relatives often results in inbreeding depression, inbreeding avoidance is widespread in the animal kingdom. However, inbreeding avoidance may entail fitness costs. For example, dispersal away from relatives may reduce survival. How these conflicting selection pressures are resolved is challenging to investigate, but theoretical models predict that inbreeding should occur frequently in some systems. Despite this, few studies have found evidence of regular incest in mammals, even in social species where relatives are spatio-temporally clustered and opportunities for inbreeding frequently arise. We used genetic parentage assignments together with relatedness data to quantify inbreeding rates in a wild population of banded mongooses, a cooperatively breeding carnivore. We show that females regularly conceive to close relatives, including fathers and brothers. We suggest that the costs of inbreeding avoidance may sometimes outweigh the benefits, even in cooperatively breeding species where strong within-group incest avoidance is considered to be the norm.
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft standard grant
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Copyright © 2014 The Authors.
Vol. 10, pp. 20140898 -
Place of publication