Social hierarchies favour genetic diversity

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.

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