More mating doesn’t always mean more babies
Often it’s easier to see how many times a male manages to mate, than it is to count the number of descendants a male has in the next generation. This has led biologists to use matings as a measure of how successful a male is. However, it’s the number of offspring you leave behind that really counts. We looked at what sort of males tended to get lots of matings and what sort of males tended to have lots of babies, and we found that they weren’t the same. For instance, dominant males actually had fewer mates than males that lost more fights, but they left just as many offspring.
Matings turn out not to be the whole story. If you’re a male, it matters not just whether you get to mate, but also whether the female goes off and mates with another male.
Download our paper on this work here