Daily energy expenditure of males following alternative reproductive tactics: Solitary roamers spend more energy than group-living males.
In many species, males follow alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs), where one tactic (called bourgeois) has much higher reproductive success than alternative tactics followed by males with lower competitive ability. The extent to which ARTs differ in energetic costs is unknown, but it is important to understand the fitness payoffs of ARTs. We studied male African striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) which follow one of three ARTs: heavy bourgeois males defend harems of females and have 10 times higher reproductive success than smaller roamers, which have ten times higher reproductive success than philopatric males, which remain in their natal group and are the smallest males. Bourgeois and philopatric males live in social groups that defend one territory, while roamers are solitary and roam over larger areas. We predicted that roamers will face higher energetic costs compared to group-living males because they do not gain thermoregulatory benefits of huddling in groups and might travel larger distances as they have larger home ranges. We measured daily energy expenditure (DEE) of 30 males, resting metabolic rate (RMR) of 79 males, travel distances and daily ranges of 31 males and changes in body mass of 51 males. Roamers had higher DEE and higher RMR than both types of group-living males. Philopatric males had shorter travel distances and smaller daily ranges than both roamers and bourgeois males, which did not differ from each other. This indicates that the higher DEE of roamers compared to bourgeois males cannot be explained by larger travel distances. Philopatrics gained body mass faster than bourgeois males and roamers, thereby increasing their competitive ability and thus the probability of later switching to a tactic of higher reproductive success. Our results suggest that roamers suffer energetic costs that might reduce their ability of gaining body mass and thus the likelihood of switching to the bourgeois tactic, indicating evolutionary trade-offs between investing energy into roaming versus gaining body mass.
Rimbach, R; Blanc, S; Zahariev, A; Pillay, N; Schradin, C
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