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Variation in social organization influences the opportunity for sexual selection in a social lizard

  • Geoffrey While
  • Tobias Uller
  • Erik Wapstra
Publishing year: 2011
Language: English
Pages: 844-852
Publication/Series: Molecular Ecology
Volume: 20
Issue: 4
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Abstract english

Social monogamy has traditionally been suggested to be maintained because of weak sexual selection on male partner acquisition. However, the ubiquitous incidence of extra-pair paternity suggests that sexual selection can be strong in monogamous systems, although studies partitioning variance in male reproductive success have come to mixed conclusions. Here, we use detailed field data to examine variance in male reproductive success and its implications for the maintenance of sociality in a population of the socially monogamous lizard Egernia whitii. We show that both within-pair and, to a lesser extent, extra-pair partner acquisition contribute to the variance in male reproductive success, resulting in considerable opportunity for sexual selection. Despite this, levels of multiple mating are lower in Egernia compared to other reptiles, suggesting that male partner acquisition is constrained. We suggest that this constraint may be a result of strong territoriality combined with sexual conflict over multiple mating generated by costs of extra-pair paternity to females as a result of facultative male care. This has the potential to limit sexual selection by reducing variance in male reproductive success and therefore contribute to the maintenance of complex social organization.


  • Biological Sciences


  • ISSN: 0962-1083
Tobias Uller
E-mail: tobias.uller [at]


Evolutionary ecology

+46 46 222 30 94


Sölvegatan 37, Lund


Research group

Experimental Evolution, Ecology & Behaviour


Doctoral students and postdocs

I am currently about to move to Lund from University of Oxford. For details about DPhil students and postdocs in my previous research group based at the Edward Grey Institute, please click here

Downloads & links

CV (pdf; 241 kB)