Published November 4, 2021 | Version v1
Dataset Open

Structural equation modeling reveals determinants of fitness in a cooperatively breeding bird

  • 1. University of Groningen
  • 2. University of East Anglia
  • 3. University of Sheffield

Description

Even in well-studied organisms, it is often challenging to uncover the social and environmental determinants of fitness. Typically, fitness is determined by a variety of factors that act in concert, thus forming complex networks of causal relationships. Moreover, even strong correlations between social and environmental conditions and fitness components may not be indicative of direct causal links, as the measured variables may be driven by unmeasured (or unmeasurable) causal factors. Standard statistical approaches, like multiple regression analyses, are not suited for disentangling such complex causal relationships. Here, we apply structural equation modeling (SEM), a technique that is specifically designed to reveal causal relationships between variables, and which also allows to include hypothetical causal factors. Therefore, SEM seems ideally suited for comparing alternative hypotheses on how fitness differences arise from differences in social and environmental factors. We apply SEM to a rich data set collected in a long-term study on the Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus seychellensis), a bird species with facultatively cooperative breeding and a high rate of extra-group paternity. Our analysis reveals that the presence of helpers has a positive effect on the reproductive output of both female and male breeders. In contrast, per capita food availability does not affect reproductive output. Our analysis does not confirm earlier suggestions on other species that the presence of helpers has a negative effect on the reproductive output of male breeders. As such, both female and male breeders should tolerate helpers in their territories, irrespective of food availability.

Notes

Missing data points are represented by an `NA`.

Additional information about data collection can be found in the method section of the manuscript, in Appendix A8, and the README_data.md file.

Funding provided by: Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100003246
Award Number: 854.11.003

Funding provided by: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001722
Award Number: 0205510763

Funding provided by: Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001722
Award Number: 0205510782

Funding provided by: European Research Council
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100010663
Award Number: 789240

Funding provided by: Natural Environment Research Council
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000270
Award Number: NE/I021748/1

Funding provided by: Natural Environment Research Council
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000270
Award Number: NE/F02083X/1

Funding provided by: Natural Environment Research Council
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000270
Award Number: NE/K005502/1

Funding provided by: Natural Environment Research Council
Crossref Funder Registry ID: http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100000270
Award Number: NE/P011284/1

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Additional details

Related works

Is derived from
10.5281/zenodo.5643494 (DOI)
Is source of
10.5281/zenodo.5585200 (DOI)