Absence of kin structure in a population of the group-living rodent Octodon degus

Verónica Quirici, Sylvain Faugeron, Loren D. Hayes, Luis A. Ebensperger

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Variation in sociality may have an important impact on population genetic structure. In highly social species, the formation of kin clusters leads to decreasing variation within but increasing genetic variation among social groups. Studies on less social species in which social groups may be more short lived have revealed a greater diversity of consequences on the genetic structure of populations. Thus, studies on populations of less social species can more precisely highlight how social structure and genetic structure covary in wild populations. We explored the relationship between natal dispersal and social structuring (i.e., whether social group are composed of kin) at the local population in a social rodent, Octodon degus, using a combination of direct (capture-mark-recapture) and indirect (codominat genetic markers) methods. Previous studies of degus indicated that social groups were characterized by high turnover rate of group members and no sex bias dispersal. As we expected, there was an absence of correlation between social and genetic structure; moreover, social groups were not characterized by high levels of genetic relatedness (R: no different form background population). Direct and indirect (corrected assignment index) methods revealed an absence of sex-biased dispersal. Moreover, this method reveled that our study population was composed of resident and immigrant individuals. Moreover, dispersal distances have no effect on kin structure as reveled by the spatial genetic autocorrelation analysis. Beside some degree of offspring association (R: among juveniles of a same group higher than background population), high turnover rate, dispersal, and perhaps a promiscuous or polyandry mating system seem to avoid a kin genetic structure, thereby limiting the opportunity for the evolution of kin-selected social behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-254
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • offspring associations
  • relatedness
  • social groups
  • spatial genetic autocorrelation analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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