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18 October 2021 A Comparative Analysis of Adult Sex Ratios in Polygynous and Monogamous Mammal Populations
Zaavian S. Espinoza, Floyd W. Weckerly
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Abstract

An inverse density-dependent relationship between abundance and adult sex ratio (ASR, males:female) occurs in some populations of polygynous mammals due to life history differences between the sexes. Male fecundity and survival is dictated by attempts to obtain as many copulations as possible, whereas female fecundity and survival is dictated by resource acquisition. Therefore, females usually acquire forage before males as a result of interspecific scramble competition, particularly when forage becomes more limited at K carrying capacity. This leads to the passive displacement of males in a given area. The common belief is that most monogamous mammal populations exhibit balanced adult sex ratios. The coupling of sexually mature males and females in a population result in this pattern for this mating system. Present literature focuses on primary or secondary sex ratios in mammals or on ASR patterns within individual species. Our goal was to test if expected ASR patterns would be visible across numerous species in both mating systems. We hypothesized we would see an inverse relationship between abundance and ASR across polygynous populations, and no relationship between abundance and ASR across monogamous populations. We extracted time series population data from published literature for 43 populations of 15 different mammal species. Results from our analysis of a linear mixed-effects model were consistent with our hypothesis for polygynous populations, as we found a significant inverse relationship between abundance and ASR. However, our analysis also revealed a significant inverse relationship between abundance and ASR in monogamous populations that was not consistent with our hypothesis. Our findings provide quantitative support for a theoretical model explaining the evolutionary and ecological mechanisms driving a density-dependent relationship between abundance and ASR in polygynous mammals. An investigation into monogamous mammals is needed to assess why some species with this mating system display a density-dependent response in ASR as well.

Zaavian S. Espinoza and Floyd W. Weckerly "A Comparative Analysis of Adult Sex Ratios in Polygynous and Monogamous Mammal Populations," The American Midland Naturalist 186(2), 299-308, (18 October 2021). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-186.2.299
Received: 19 August 2020; Accepted: 6 July 2021; Published: 18 October 2021
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