Evol Ecol Res 9: 1223-1243 (2007)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Extra-pair parentage: a new theory based on transactions in a cooperative game

Erol Akçay* and Joan Roughgarden

Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, 371 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: erol@stanford.edu


Question: What is the adaptive significance of extra-pair parentage?

Theoretical approach: We view parentage as a ‘transaction currency’ for exchanges of ecological benefits. We develop a multi-player cooperative game, using the core and the Nash bargaining solution as solution concepts.

Model assumptions: Birds can negotiate about who pairs with whom. Parentage can be exchanged between individuals as a result of negotiations. Number of offspring fledged from a nest depends on the experience and situation of the social parents and not on their genes (i.e. only direct benefits, no genetic benefits).

Predictions: We predict extra-pair parentage to occur when individuals with higher breeding capability are paired to individuals with lower breeding capability. Social interactions between males are predicted to precede the occurrence of extra-pair paternity. We give an example experiment to test our model.

Keywords: cooperative games, direct benefits, extra-pair paternity, genetic benefits, negotiation, social selection.

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