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Allee Effects in Social Species

Allee Effects in Social Species

Allee effects have important implications for many aspects of basic and applied ecology. The benefits of aggregation of conspecific individuals are central to Allee effects, which have led to the widely held assumption that social species are more prone to Allee effects. Robust evidence for this assumption, however, remains rare. Furthermore, previous research on Allee effects has failed to adequately address the consequences of the different levels of organisation within social species’ populations. We review available evidence of Allee effects and model the role of demographic and behavioural factors that may combine to dampen or strengthen Allee effects in social species. We use examples across various species with contrasting social structure, including carnivores, bats, primates and eusocial insects. Building on this, we provide a conceptual framework that allows for the integration of different Allee effects in social species.