Is sexual monomorphism a predictor of polygynandry? Evidence from a social mammal, the collared peccary
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- Cooper, J.D., Waser, P.M., Hellgren, E.C. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2011) 65: 775. doi:10.1007/s00265-010-1081-2
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Sexual dimorphism is common in polygynous species, and there is clear evidence that both intra-sexual competition and female preferences can drive the evolution of large body size in males. In contrast, sexual monomorphism is often argued to reflect a relaxation of male mate competition or an intensification of resource competition among females. Alternatively, it might imply opportunities for females to circumvent or counteract male mate competition in a polygynandrous mating system. We test the prediction that sexual monorphism is associated with polygynandry in the collared peccary (Pecari tajacu, Tayassuidae), a social ungulate closely related to the old-world suids. The genetic mating system in the Tayassuidae is unknown, but its sexual monomorphism presents a striking contrast to the strong size dimorphism found in most Suidae, so that a departure from the polygynous system common in Suidae would be noteworthy. We characterized genetic relationships among adults within herds in three geographically distinct populations, assigned parents to 75 offspring, and tested for skew in individual reproductive success. Parentage assignment data indicated that multiple males sire offspring within a herd, and in the population for which genetic data were most complete, 19% of parentage assignments were potentially sired by extra-herd males. Some litters have multiple sires, and neither males nor females monopolized reproduction, even in small herds. This result supports our prediction and suggests that sexual monomorphism may either select for or be an evolutionary consequence of a promiscuous mating system.