Fine-scale genetic structuring on Manacus manacus leks

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Leks have traditionally been considered as arenas where males compete to attract females and secure matings. Thus, direct fitness benefits mediated through competition between males to fertilize females have been considered to be the primary force driving the evolution of lekking behaviour1,2. Inclusive fitness benefits mediated through kin selection3 may also be involved in lek formation and evolution4,5, but to date this theory has been largely ignored. According to kin-selection theory, both reproducing and non-reproducing males may gain indirect inclusive fitness benefits. If females are attracted to larger leks, non-reproducing males add attractiveness to a lek, and therefore, in a genetically structured population, boost the reproductive success of kin. Theory predicts that the attractiveness of leks is plastic, and that males establish themselves on a lek in which the top male, in terms of reproductive success, is a close relative6. Here we show that in white-bearded manakins (Manacus manacus), for which larger leks are more attractive to females7,8 and so secure the maximum number of matings, there is extraordinary fine-scale genetic structure, with leks being composed of clusters of related kin. We propose that males establish themselves where they find relatives to such an extent that they form groups within leks, and that such behaviour is consistent with kin-selection theory to maximize reproductive success of the group.

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Figure 1: Mean relatedness values of male groupings.
Figure 2: Levels of relatedness and spatial positioning on two M. manacus leks.


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We thank C. Fitzjames, J. Johnston and T. Lievonen for help in the field, S. Griffith for advice and R. Dufva for help in the lab. The study was funded by the Swedish Natural Sciences Research Council (NFR) (to J.H.).

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Correspondence to Lisa Shorey.

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