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The benefits of stable pair bonds (that persist between breeding attempts) have been well described, but are relatively less well known in cooperatively breeding species. If pair bonds are beneficial, then it is possible that the bond between the behaviorally and socially dominant pair may influence factors such as reproductive success and group stability in cooperative species. Here, we used long-term data to investigate the relationships between pair bond tenure, reproductive success, and group stability in the cooperatively breeding pied babbler (Turdoides bicolor). Pair bond tenure positively influenced both the number of offspring recruited annually per pair and total reproductive success (over entire pair bond duration), indicating that pair bond tenure has an important influence on reproductive success. The likelihood of immigration into the group was lower for groups containing a bonded pair with long tenure, indicating that the duration of pair bonds may impact group stability. These findings suggest that pair tenure, a hitherto relatively unexplored factor in cooperative species, may have an important influence on group dynamics.
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