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The heritability of multiple male mating in a promiscuous mammal
Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph.
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2011 (English)In: Biology Letters, ISSN 1744-9561, E-ISSN 1744-957X, Vol. 7, no 3, 368-371 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The tendency of females to mate with multiple males is often explained by direct and indirect benefits that could outweigh the many potential costs of multiple mating. However, behaviour can only evolve in response to costs and benefits if there is sufficient genetic variation on which selection can act. We followed 108 mating chases of 85 North American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) during 4 years, to measure each female's degree of multiple male mating (MMM), and used an animal model analysis of our multi-generational pedigree to provide what we believe is the first estimate of the heritability of MMM in the wild. Female red squirrels were highly polyandrous, mating with an average of 7.0 ± 0.2 males on their day of oestrus. Although we found evidence for moderate levels of additive genetic variation (CVA = 5.1), environmental variation was very high (CVE = 32.3), which resulted in a very low heritability estimate (h2 < 0.01). So, while there is genetic variation in this trait, the large environmental variation suggests that any costs or benefits associated with differences among females in MMM are primarily owing to environmental and not genetic differences, which could constrain the evolutionary response to natural selection on this trait.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 7, no 3, 368-371 p.
National Category
Biological Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-252016DOI: 10.1098/RSBL.2010.1003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-252016DiVA: diva2:808422
Available from: 2015-04-28 Created: 2015-04-28 Last updated: 2015-07-29Bibliographically approved

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McFarlane, S. Eryn
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