Intraspecific competition and inbreeding depression: Increased competitive effort by inbred males is costly to outbred opponents

Jon Richardson, Per Terje Smiseth*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A recent theoretical model suggests that intraspecific competition is an important determinant of the severity of inbreeding depression. The reason for this is that intraspecific competition is density dependent, leading to a stronger negative effect on inbred individuals if they are weaker competitors than outbred ones. In support of this prediction, previous empirical work shows that inbred individuals are weaker competitors than outbred ones and that intraspecific competition often exacerbates inbreeding depression. Here, we report an experiment on the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides, in which we recorded the outcome of competition over a small vertebrate carcass between an inbred or outbred male resident caring for a brood and a size-matched inbred or outbred male intruder. We found that inbred males were more successful as intruders in taking over a carcass from a male resident, and were injured more frequently as either residents or intruders. Furthermore, inbred males gained less mass during the breeding attempt, and had a shorter adult lifespan than outbred males. Finally, successful resident males reared a substantially smaller brood comprised of lighter larvae when the intruder was inbred than when he was outbred. Our results shows that inbred males increased their competitive effort, thus contradicting previous work suggesting that inbred males are weaker competitors. Furthermore, our results shows that inbred intruders impose a greater cost to resident males, suggesting that outbred individuals can suffer fitness costs due to competition with inbred ones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-548
Number of pages10
JournalThe American Naturalist
Issue number5
Early online date13 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • competitive effort
  • injuries
  • life span
  • nicrophorus vespilloides
  • reproductive success
  • terminal investment


Dive into the research topics of 'Intraspecific competition and inbreeding depression: Increased competitive effort by inbred males is costly to outbred opponents'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this