A strong social hierarchy (or ‘pecking order’) and territoriality help prevent inbreeding, giving species an adaptive advantage. Whether it be a dominant female stick-nest rat ruling the nest, or a dominant male rabbit ejecting young males from a warren and forcing them to settle in foreign territory, the result is the same. Genetic diversity, saving the species from in-breeding.
A recent article in The Conversation by Isabelle Onley explained the process in greater stick-nest rats and other native species, and rabbit geneticist Amy Iannella has followed up with a Blog on how social hierarchy and territoriality benefit genetic diversity in invasive rabbits.
For more information:
- ‘Meet the territorial females and matriarchs in Australia’s backyard’, The Conversation. Isabelle Onley.
- ‘Who rules the burrow?’ Rabbit-Free Australia Blog. Amy Iannella