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The data of Woolfenden and Fitzpatrick (1984) show a statistically significant asymmetry in the sex ratio of non-breeders when one of the breeders is not the non-breeder's parent. 1 propose that the asymmetry is attributable to a combination of two factors acting on non-breeders: the value of inheriting a territory, and incest avoidance. Although natal territories are only occasionally inherited by non-breeders, and then apparently only by males, the rate of inheritance is significantly higher for parent/step-parent breeders (n = 6) than when both breeders are the non-breeder's parents (n = 1). An alternative hypothesis, that step-parents determine the non-breeder asymmetry by ousting potential rivals, might also explain the data, but evidence is currently lacking.


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