Social regulation of reproduction: control or signal?

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Chiara Benvenuto, Maria Cristina Lorenzi


Traditionally, dominant breeders have been considered able to control other individuals’ reproduction in multi-member groups with high variance in reproductive success/reproductive skew (e.g., forced sterility on subordinate conspecifics in eusocial animals; suppression of sex change in sequential hermaphrodites). These actions are typically presented as active impositions by reproductively dominant individuals. However, how can individuals regulate the physiological reproductive state of others? Alternatively, less reproductively successful individuals could self-restrain from reproduction in presence of dominant breeders. Shifting perspective from a top-down manipulation to a broader view (which includes all contestants) and using a multi-taxa approach, we propose a resolution of reproductive-skew conflicts based on signalling rather than control, along a continuum of levels of strategic regulation of reproduction.



Life Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences


Eusociality; Hermaphroditism; Cooperative breeding; Dominance; Communication; Social control


Published: 2023-01-13 00:43


CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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