Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 62, Issue 6, pp 855–871 | Cite as

The interrelationships between resource-holding potential, resource-value and reproductive success in territorial males: How much variation can we explain?



A long-standing hypothesis in behavioural ecology posits that males with greater resource-holding potential (RHP) control resource sites deemed more valuable by sexually-receptive females and, thereby, males controlling such sites accrue greater reproductive success (RS). This hypothesis has historically been investigated using three separate but non-mutually exclusive relationships (male RHP vs. resource value, resource value vs. male RS and male RHP vs. RS). The relationships between these three variables are predicted to be strongly positive, however, due to measurement error and biological noise, perfect correlations (r = 1.0) are rare in biology even for well-established relationships. Moreover, the inaccurate identification of either the male trait(s) important to RHP or the resource characteristic sought by females will weaken the observed strength of the relationships. Here, I use meta-analysis to quantitatively describe the general pattern of these relationships in animals. I predict that the relationships between male RHP, resource-value and RS should be significantly positive (male RHP and resource-value should explain a large amount of the variation in male RS). My meta-analysis supports this hypothesis; however, in the best case scenario only ca. 20% of the variation in the response variable was explained. I conclude by identifying areas in which we need to improve our investigations of resource-defence animals and recommending approaches to meet these needs.


Resource-defence Resource-holding potential Resource value Mating success Sexual selection Meta-analysis Publication bias 



I thank Darryl Gwynne and Michael Jennions for advice and comments on the manuscript. This study was supported by an operating grant from National Science and Research Engineering Council (NSERC) of Canada to Darryl Gwynne and by an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship and an Australian National University Faculty of Science support grant to the author.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Toronto at MississaugaMississaugaCanada
  2. 2.School of Botany and ZoologyAustralian National UniversityCanberra, ACTAustralia

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