Lukas & Clutton-Brock (2012) Cooperative breeding and monogamy in mammalian societies. Proc R Soc 279:2151-2156
Comparative studies of social insects and birds show that the evolution of cooperative and eusocial breeding systems has been confined to species where females mate completely or almost exclusively with a single male, indicating that high levels of average kinship between group members are necessary for the evolution of reproductive altruism. In this paper, we show that in mammals, the evolution of cooperative breeding has been restricted to socially monogamous species which currently represent 5 per cent of all mammalian species. Since extra-pair paternity is relatively uncommon in socially monogamous and cooperatively breeding mammals, our analyses support the suggestion that high levels of average kinship between group members have played an important role in the evolution of cooperative breeding in non-human mammals, as well as in birds and insects.
Lukas & Clutton-Brock (2012) Life histories and the evolution of cooperative breeding in mammals. Proc R Soc 279:4065-4070
While the evolution of cooperative breeding systems (where non-breeding helpers participate in rearing young produced by dominant females) has been restricted to lineages with socially monogamous mating systems where coefficients of relatedness between group members are usually high, not all monogamous lineages have produced species with cooperative breeding systems, suggesting that other factors constrain the evolution of cooperative breeding. Previous studies have suggested that life-history parameters, including longevity, may constrain the evolution of cooperative breeding. Here, we show that transitions to cooperative breeding across the mammalian phylogeny have been restricted to lineages where females produce multiple offspring per birth. We find no support for effects of longevity or of other life-history parameters. We suggest that the evolution of cooperative breeding has been restricted to monogamous lineages where helpers have the potential to increase the reproductive output of breeders.
Kramer & Russell (2014) Kin-selected cooperation without lifetime monogamy: human insights and animal implications. TREE DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2014.09.001
Recent phylogenetic analyses suggest that monogamy precedes the evolution of cooperative breeding involving non-breeding helpers. The rationale: only through monogamy can helper–recipient relatedness coefficients match those of parent–offspring. Given that humans are cooperative breeders, these studies imply a monogamy bottleneck during hominin evolution. However, evidence from multiple sources is not compelling. In reconciliation, we propose that selection against cooperative breeding under alternative mating patterns will be mitigated by: (i) kin discrimination, (ii) reduced birth-intervals, and (iii) constraints on independent breeding, particularly for premature and post-fertile individuals. We suggest that such alternatives require consideration to derive a complete picture of the selection pressures acting on the evolution of cooperative breeding in humans and other animals.