Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Male lions in large coalitions gain reproductive advantages

Abstract

Cooperation between two or more individuals has been shown to yield short-term benefits in several vertebrate species1–4, and various hypotheses have been developed to explain the evolution of cooperative behaviour5–7. However, until now there has been no evidence to show that such cooperation actually does confer lifetime's reproductive advantages on more than one member of the coalitions concerned8,9. Long-term studies of wild lions (Panthera leo L.) have now provided such evidence. We show that, compared with singletons and pairs, male lions in groups of three or more can more reliably gain tenure of female prides, retain tenure for longer, mate with more different females, and produce more surviving offspring; thus each individual has higher fitness through cooperation.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Packer, C. Nature 265, 441–443 (1977).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Schaller, G. B. The Serengeti Lion (Chicago University Press, 1972).

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Kruuk, H. The Spotted Hyena (Chicago University Press, 1972).

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Emlen, S. T. in Behavioural Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach (eds Krebs, J. R. & Davies, N. B.) (Blackwell, Oxford, 1978).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Hamilton, W. D. J. theor. Biol. 7, 1–52 (1964).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Maynard Smith, J. & Ridpath, M. G. Am. Nat 106, 447–452 (1972).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Trivers, R. L. Q. Rev. Biol. 46, 35–57 (1971).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Hrdy, S. B. The Langurs of Abu (Harvard University Press, 1978).

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Watts, C. R. & Stokes, A. W. Scient. Am. 224, 112–118 (1971).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Bertram, B. C. R. J. Zool. Lond. 177, 463–482 (1975).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Bertram, B. C. R. E. Afr. Wildl. J. 11, 215–225 (1973).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Hanby, J. P. & Bygott, J. D. in Serengeti: The Dynamics of an Ecosystem (eds Sinclair, A. R. E. & Norton-Griffiths, M.) (Chicago University Press, in the press).

  13. 13

    Pennycuick, C. J. & Rudnai, J. J. Zool., Lond. 160, 497–508 (1970).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Bertram, B. C. R. in Growing Points in Ethology (eds Bateson, P. P. G. & Hinde, R. A.) (Cambridge University Press, 1976).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    LeBoeuf, B. J. Behaviour 41, 1–26 (1972).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Gibson, R. M. & Guinness, F. E. J. Anim. Ecol. (in the press).

  17. 17

    Wilson, E. O. Sociobiology (Belknap, Harvard, 1975).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bygott, J., Bertram, B. & Hanby, J. Male lions in large coalitions gain reproductive advantages. Nature 282, 839–841 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1038/282839a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing