The American Naturalist
Joint nesting by females and cooperative polyandry—cooperatively breeding groups with a male-biased breeder sex ratio—are little-understood, rare breeding systems. We tested alternative hypotheses of factors potentially driving these phenomena in a population of joint-nesting acorn woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus). During periods of high population density and thus low independent breeding opportunities, acorn woodpecker females formed joint-nesting coalitions with close kin. Coalitions were typically associated with groups with a male bias. We found strong evidence for both inter- and intrasexual conflict, as joint nesting conferred a fitness benefit to some males, a significant fitness cost to females, and no gain in per capita reproductive output for either sex. Such conflict, particularly the cost to females, may be an important reason why joint nesting is rare among cooperatively breeding taxa.
Original Publication Citation
Barve, S., Walters, E. L., Koenig, W. D., & Haydock, J. (2019). Habitat saturation results in joint-nesting female coalitions in a social bird. The American Naturalist, 193(6), 830-840. doi:10.1086/703188
Barve, Sahas; Koenig, Walter D.; Haydock, Joseph; and Walters, Eric L., "Habitat Saturation Results in Joint-Nesting Female Coalitions in a Social Bird" (2019). Biological Sciences Faculty Publications. 383.
0000-0001-5840-8023 (Barve, Sahas), 0000-0002-9414-5758 (Walters, Eric)