Reproductive inequality, or reproductive skew, drives natural selection, but has been difficult to assess, particularly for males in species with promiscuous mating and slow life histories, such as bonobos (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Although bonobos are often portrayed as more egalitarian than chimpanzees, genetic studies have found high male reproductive skew in bonobos. Here, we discuss mechanisms likely to affect male reproductive skew in Pan, then re-examine skew patterns using paternity data from published work and new data from the Kokolopori Bonobo Reserve, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Using the multinomial index (M), we found considerable overlap in skew between the species, but the highest skew occurred among bonobos. Additionally, for two of three bonobo communities, but no chimpanzee communities, the highest ranking male had greater siring success than predicted by priority-of-access. Thus, an expanded dataset covering a broader demographic range confirms that bonobos have high male reproductive skew. Detailed comparison of data from Pan highlights that reproductive skew models should consider male–male dynamics including the effect of between-group competition on incentives for reproductive concessions, but also female grouping patterns and factors related to male–female dynamics including the expression of female choice.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 378, n. 1883, August 2023