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Keywords:

  • Petauridae;
  • social;
  • dispersal;
  • dominance;
  • sex ratio;
  • Petaurus breviceps

Abstract

The sugar glider Petaurus breviceps is generally considered to be a polygynous, group-nesting species. However, recent captive studies have indicated that dominance hierarchies and shared codominance amongst males formed when males were housed in multiple-male, multiple-female cages with male-biased sex ratios. This study uses data from sugar glider groups in natural populations to assess the probability of male dominance hierarchies and the opportunity for codominant father–son coalitions. Nesting groups of sugar gliders were found to have female-biased sex ratios ranging from 1:1.5 to 1:2.7 males:females. The dispersing sex was male – there were four records of recruitment into the natal group, all of which were female. Only one example was found of a long-term adult male association between a father and putative son, which did not occur in the natal group of the son. The evidence suggests that though father–son associations may occur, the opportunities for male dominance hierarchies or male coalitions are rare in sugar glider nesting groups in the natural environment.