Relatedness Does not Affect Competitive Behavior of Rival Males or Offspring Growth in Multiply Sired Litters of Bank Voles (Myodes glareolus)

Authors

  • Ines Klemme,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
    • Correspondence

      Ines Klemme, Department of Biological and Environmental Science, P.O. Box 35, University of Jyväskylä, 40014 Jyväskylä, Finland.

      E-mail: ines.klemme@jyu.fi

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  • Outi Ala-Honkola

    1. Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
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Abstract

Kin selection operates through the fitness of an organism's relatives. In the polyandry context, kin selection may be observable on the one hand in competition between rival males and, on the other hand, in competition between litter mates. Sperm competition theory predicts that males should invest less into mating when competing for fertilizations against a close relative as compared to an unrelated male. We tested this hypothesis with bank voles (Myodes glareolus) by mating each focal male to two females: one of which had previously mated with a full sibling of the focal male and the other one with a male unrelated to the focal male. However, we found no effect of rival male relatedness on mating behavior or proportion of offspring sired by the 2nd male to mate. Possibly, the probability of successive mating of related males with the same female is too low in natural bank vole populations for selection to have fine-tuned mating behavior in relation to rival male relatedness. Further, polyandry often results in litters sired by multiple males. Litter mates of such litters have a reduced relatedness and are thus expected to be less cooperative during gestation and lactation, which may impair growth. Following double matings with either two full-sibling males or two unrelated males, we compared offspring growth at birth and during lactation. Against our prediction, there was no difference in growth between litters sired either by two full-sibling males or by two unrelated males. Either the conflict was not severe enough to be visible with our sample size (N = 16) or it may have been resolved by maternal control of offspring provisioning.

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