Differential female sociality is linked with the fine-scale structure of sexual interactions in replicate groups of red junglefowl, Gallus gallus

Grant C. McDonald, Lewis G. Spurgin, Eleanor A. Fairfield, David S. Richardson, Tommaso Pizzari

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Recent work indicates that social structure has extensive implications for patterns of sexual selection and sexual conflict. However, little is known about the individual variation in social behaviours linking social structure to sexual interactions. Here, we use network analysis of replicate polygynandrous groups of red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) to show that the association between social structure and sexual interactions is underpinned by differential female sociality. Sexual dynamics are largely explained by a core group of highly social, younger females, which are more fecund and more polyandrous, and thus associated with more intense postcopulatory competition for males. By contrast, less fecund females from older cohorts, which tend to be socially dominant, avoid male sexual attention by clustering together and perching on branches, and preferentially reproduce with dominant males by more exclusively associating and mating with them. Collectively, these results indicate that individual females occupy subtly different social niches and demonstrate that female sociality can be an important factor underpinning the landscape of intrasexual competition and the emergent structure of animal societies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20191734
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1913
Early online date16 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Gallus
  • Polyandry
  • Sexual networks
  • Sexual selection
  • Social networks
  • Social niche construction

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