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Relationship between nest defence behaviours and reproductive benefits in Chinese alligators

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The evolutionary theory in parental care predicts that parents may defend more vigorously of nests with higher survival and reproductive benefits. Based on this prediction, we proposed that the occurrence of nest defence behaviours in Chinese alligators might be connected to reproductive benefits (clutch size, fertility rate, and hatching rate). In this study, we examined the relationship between the occurrence of nest defence behaviours and (1) the variations in clutch size, fertility rate, and hatching rate of wild Chinese alligators, and (2) the variations in clutch size and fertility rate of captive Chinese alligators in a semi-natural facility. Results showed that for the wild Chinese alligators, the fertility and hatching rates with nest defence behaviours were higher than those without nest defence behaviours. The results also showed that for the captive Chinese alligators, the fertility rates with nest defence behaviours were higher than those without nest defence behaviours. These results suggested that nest defence behaviours in Chinese alligators might be relative to reproductive benefits, thus likely to further improve the probability of the species’ reproductive success.

Affiliations: 1: 1College of Life Sciences, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu, Anhui 241000, China; 2: 2Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Alabama A&M University, P.O. Box 1927, Normal, Alabama 35762, USA


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