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Proximate factors associated with high levels of extraconsort fertilization in polygynous grey seals
Ambs, S.M.; Boness, D.J.; Bowen, W.D.; Perry, E.A.; Fleischer, R.C. (1999). Proximate factors associated with high levels of extraconsort fertilization in polygynous grey seals. Anim. Behav. 58: 527-535
In: Animal Behaviour. Academic Press: London,. ISSN 0003-3472, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Ambs, S.M.
  • Boness, D.J.
  • Bowen, W.D.
  • Perry, E.A.
  • Fleischer, R.C.

    Behavioural estimates of male mating success in polygynous grey seals, Halichoerus grypus, may be misleading as females are known to be promiscuous. At Sable Island, Nova Scotia, we collected behavioural observations and skin samples for paternity analysis from 56 females and their attending males. Twenty-four of these females were found in the following year and their offspring were sampled. Using seven hypervariable microsatellite loci, we excluded the consort male as the father in 43% of the cases. The probability of exclusion of these seven loci was 98.2%. Contrary to expectations, inland females had higher rates of extraconsort fertilizations (ECFs) (70%) than beach females (23%). Younger females (<9 years) had slightly more ECFs than older females, but this was not significant. The duration of male consortship did not differ between females with ECFs and females fertilized by their consort male. Two explanations may account for the inland females having more ECFs: a higher ratio of females to tenured males inland may provide a greater opportunity for nonconsort males to obtain copulations; and inland females travel greater distances to depart for the ocean and may attract more males. These results are more consistent with the hypothesis that ECFs are a byproduct for females of male strategies to maximize reproductive success than with hypotheses concerned with either material or genetic benefits gained by females.

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