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Keywords:

  • evolution;
  • social competition;
  • mammals;
  • females

Abstract

Although competition between females is one of the cornerstones of the theory of natural selection, most studies of reproductive competition have focussed principally on mating competition in males. Here, we summarize our current understanding of adaptive tactics used by competing females in social mammals, and assess the social mechanisms affecting competitive success and the evolutionary consequences of social competition between females. As well as emphasizing the importance of female–female competition in social evolution, recent studies highlight the qualitative similarities in the operation of selection in females and males.