Mating system characterizations have been hindered by difficulties in accurately assigning parentage to offspring. We investigated the relationship between social assemblages and mating relationships in a territorial harem polygynous mammal, the Gunnison's prairie dog, using a combination of behavioral and molecular analyses. We demonstrate multiple paternity and an extraordinarily high incidence of extraterritorial fertilizations (i.e., 61% of all progeny), in combination with the existence of female kin groups. On this basis, we conclude that social assemblages alone provide a poor description of the Gunnison's prairie dog mating system, and suggest several potential reasons for the maintenance of territoriality in this species.
Social assemblages and mating relationships in prairie dogs: a DNA fingerprint analysisReproductive Behavior Collection
Citation InformationSteven E. Travis, C. N. Slobodchikoff, Paul Kefan, Social assemblages and mating relationships in prairie dogs: a DNA fingerprint analysis, Behavioral Ecology, Volume 7, Issue 1, Spring 1996, Pages 95–100, https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/7.1.95