Sexual conflict. The evolution of infanticide by males in mammalian societies.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Lukas, Dieter; Huchard, Elise
Year of Publication: 2014
Journal: Science
Volume: 346
Issue: 6211
Pagination: 841-4
Date Published: 2014 Nov 14
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1095-9203
Keywords: Animals, Biological Evolution, Conflict (Psychology), Female, Male, Mammals, Pair Bond, Reproduction, Sex Ratio, Sexual Behavior, Animal

Male mammals often kill conspecific offspring. The benefits of such infanticide to males, and its costs to females, probably vary across mammalian social and mating systems. We used comparative analyses to show that infanticide primarily evolves in social mammals in which reproduction is monopolized by a minority of males. It has not promoted social counterstrategies such as female gregariousness, pair living, or changes in group size and sex ratio, but is successfully prevented by female sexual promiscuity, a paternity dilution strategy. These findings indicate that infanticide is a consequence, rather than a cause, of contrasts in mammalian social systems affecting the intensity of sexual conflict.

DOI: 10.1126/science.1257226
Alternate Journal: Science