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Paternity analysis shows experience, not age, enhances mating success in a an aquatically mating pinniped, the Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii)


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Harcourt, RG, Kingston, JJ, Cameron, MF, Waas, JR and Hindell, MA 2007 , 'Paternity analysis shows experience, not age, enhances mating success in a an aquatically mating pinniped, the Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddellii)' , Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, vol. 61, no. 4 , pp. 643-652 , doi: 10.1007/s00265-006-0294-x.

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For polygynous mammals with no paternal care,
the number of offspring sired is often the sole measure of
male reproductive success. The potential for polygyny is
highest when resources or other environmental factors such
as restricted breeding sites force females to aggregate. In
these circumstances, males compete intensely for females
and mating success may vary greatly among males, further
intensifying selection for those traits that confer an
advantage in reproduction. Hence, determinants of male
success in competition for females are likely to be under
strong sexual selection. Paternity analysis was used in
conjunction with measures of age, site fidelity, and
behavior during the breeding season to assess variance in
male breeding success in Weddell seals (Leptonychotes
weddellii) breeding at Turtle Rock, McMurdo Sound
(77.727S, 166.85E) between 1997 and 2000. Paternity
could be assigned to 177 pups at relaxed or 80% confidence
level or 111 pups at strict or 95% confidence levels.
Weddell seals at Turtle Rock show a modest degree of
polygyny with the greatest number of pups sired by any
individual male in a single season equalling 5 or ∼10% of
the pups born. Over four consecutive years, most (89.2%)
males sired at least one pup. In a generalized linear model
(GLM), age and the age first seen at the study site as an
adult were unrelated to mating success, but adult experience,
either site-specific or elsewhere in McMurdo Sound,
over the reproductive life span of males explained nearly
40% of variance in total mating success with 80%
confidence and 24% of variance at 95% confidence. While
learning where females are likely to be may enhance male
reproductive success, aquatic mating reduces the ability of
males to monopolize females, and thereby increases equity
in mating success.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Harcourt, RG and Kingston, JJ and Cameron, MF and Waas, JR and Hindell, MA
Keywords: Paternity .Weddell seal . Mating success . Polygyny . Experience
Journal or Publication Title: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0340-5443
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s00265-006-0294-x
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