Data from: Mating dynamics and multiple paternity in a long-lived vertebrate
Multiple paternity is relatively common across diverse taxa; however, the drivers and implications related to paternal and maternal fitness are not well understood. Several hypotheses have been offered to explain the occurrence and frequency of multiple paternity. One set of hypotheses seeks to explain multiple paternity through direct and indirect benefits including increased genetic diversity or enhanced offspring fitness, whereas another set of hypotheses explains multiple paternity as a byproduct of sexual conflict and population-specific parameters such as density. Here we investigate mating system dynamics in a historically studied population of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) in coastal South Carolina. We examine parentage in 151 nests across 6 years and find that 43% of nests were sired by multiple males and that male reproductive success is strongly influenced by male size. Whereas clutch size and hatchling size did not differ between singly sired and multiple sired nests, fertility rates were observed to be lower in multiply sired clutches. Our findings suggest that multiple paternity may exert cost in regard to female fitness, and raise the possibility that sexual conflict might influence the frequency of multiple paternity in wild alligator populations.