Social network structure in wintering golden-crowned sparrows is not correlated with kinship.

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    • Abstract:
      Stable social organization in a wide variety of organisms has been linked to kinship, which can minimize conflict due to the indirect fitness benefits from cooperating with relatives. In birds, kin selection has been mostly studied in the context of reproduction or in species that are social year round. Many birds however are migratory, and the role of kinship in the winter societies of these species is virtually unexplored. In a previous study, we discovered striking social complexity and stability in a wintering population of migratory golden-crowned sparrows ( Zonotrichia atricapilla) - individuals repeatedly form close associations with the same social partners, including across multiple winters. Here, we test the possibility that kinship might be involved in these close and stable social affiliations. We examine the relationship between kinship and social structure for two of the consecutive wintering seasons from the previous study. We found no evidence that social structure was influenced by kinship. Relatedness between most pairs of individuals was at most that of first cousins (and mostly far lower). Genetic networks based on relatedness do not correspond to the social networks, and Mantel tests revealed no relationship between kinship and pairwise interaction frequency. Kinship also failed to predict social structure in more fine-grained analyses, including analyses of each sex separately (in the event that sex-biased migration might limit kin selection to one sex), and separate analyses for each social community. The complex winter societies of golden-crowned sparrows appear to be based on cooperative benefits unrelated to kin selection. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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