The reproductive potentiaI of animal species is a compound result of numerous behavioral and physiological characteristics, most of which can be considered species-typical. These include such things as the time required to attain reproductive maturity, the number of nesting or renesting attempts per year once maturity is attained, the number of eggs laid per breeding attempt, and the number of years adults may remain reproductively active. These traits place an upper limit on the reproductive potential of a species, which is never actually attained. Rather, the actual rate of increase will only approach the reproductive potential, being limited by such things as the incidence of nonbreeding; the mortality rates of adults; decreased hatching success resulting from infertility, predation, or nest abandonment; relative rearing success; incidence of renesting and clutch sizes of renests; and similar factors that affect the reproductive efficiency. The relative involvement of the male in protecting the nest or the young may also influence hatching or rearing success. Among those species in which the male does not participate in nesting behavior, the relative degree of monogamy, polygamy, or promiscuity may strongly influence the reproductive ecology and population genetics of the species. Although many of these considerations will be treated under the accounts of the individual species, a general comparison of the grouse and quail groups as a whole are worth considering here, to see if any general trends can be detected.
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