Publication Details

Rueger, T., Barbasch, T. A., Wong, M. Y. L., Srinivasan, M., Jones, G. P. & Buston, P. M. (2018). Reproductive control via the threat of eviction in the clown anemonefish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 285 (1891), 20181295-1-20181295-7.


In social groups, high reproductive skew is predicted to arise when the reproductive output of a group is limited, and dominant individuals can suppress subordinate reproductive efforts. Reproductive suppression is often assumed to occur via overt aggression or the threat of eviction. It is unclear, however, whether the threat of eviction alone is sufficient to induce reproductive restraint by subordinates. Here, we test two assumptions of the restraint model of reproductive skew by investigating whether resource limitation generates reproductive competition and whether the threat of eviction leads to reproductive restraint in the clown anemonefish Amphiprion percula. First, we use a feeding experiment to test whether reproduction is resource limited, which would create an incentive for the dominant pair to suppress subordinate reproduction. We show that the number of eggs laid increased in the population over the study period, but the per cent increase in fed groups was more than twice that in unfed groups (205% and 78%, respectively). Second, we use an eviction experiment to test whether the dominant pair evicts mature subordinates, which would create an incentive for the subordinates to forgo reproduction. We show that mature subordinates are seven times more likely to be evicted than immature subordinates of the same size. In summary, we provide experimental support for the assumptions of the restraint model by showing that resource limitation creates reproductive competition and a credible threat of eviction helps explain why subordinates forego reproduction. Transactional models of reproductive skew may apply well to this and other simple systems.



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