Large males dominate: ecology, social organization, and mating system of wild cavies, the ancestors of the guinea pig

Asher M, Lippmann T, Epplen JT, Kraus C, Trillmich F, Sachser N (2008)
BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY 62(9): 1509-1521.

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Abstract
Ecological factors differently affect male and female animals and thereby importantly influence their life history and reproductive strategies. Caviomorph rodents are found in a wide range of habitats in South America and different social and mating systems have evolved in closely related species. This permits to study the impact of ecological factors on social evolution. In this study, we investigated the social organization and the mating system of the wild cavy (Cavia aperea), the ancestor of the domestic guinea pig, in its natural habitat in Uruguay. Based on our laboratory investigations, we expected a polygynous system with large males controlling access to females. Results from radiotelemetry and direct observations showed that females occupied small stable home ranges which were largely overlapped by that of one large male, resulting in a social organization of small harems. In some cases, small satellite males were associated with harems and intermediate-sized roaming males were occasionally observed on the study site. However, microsatellite analyses revealed that offspring were exclusively sired by large males of the same or neighboring harems, with a moderate degree of multiple paternity (13-27%). Thus, the mating system of C. aperea can be described as polygynous and contrasts with the promiscuous organization described for other species of cavies (Cavia magna, Galea musteloides and Microcavia australis) living under different ecological conditions. Our findings stress the strong impact of environmental factors on social evolution in Caviomorphs as resource distribution determines female space use and, thereby, the ability of males to monopolize females.
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Asher M, Lippmann T, Epplen JT, Kraus C, Trillmich F, Sachser N. Large males dominate: ecology, social organization, and mating system of wild cavies, the ancestors of the guinea pig. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY. 2008;62(9):1509-1521.
Asher, M., Lippmann, T., Epplen, J. T., Kraus, C., Trillmich, F., & Sachser, N. (2008). Large males dominate: ecology, social organization, and mating system of wild cavies, the ancestors of the guinea pig. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, 62(9), 1509-1521.
Asher, M., Lippmann, T., Epplen, J. T., Kraus, C., Trillmich, F., and Sachser, N. (2008). Large males dominate: ecology, social organization, and mating system of wild cavies, the ancestors of the guinea pig. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY 62, 1509-1521.
Asher, M., et al., 2008. Large males dominate: ecology, social organization, and mating system of wild cavies, the ancestors of the guinea pig. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, 62(9), p 1509-1521.
M. Asher, et al., “Large males dominate: ecology, social organization, and mating system of wild cavies, the ancestors of the guinea pig”, BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, vol. 62, 2008, pp. 1509-1521.
Asher, M., Lippmann, T., Epplen, J.T., Kraus, C., Trillmich, F., Sachser, N.: Large males dominate: ecology, social organization, and mating system of wild cavies, the ancestors of the guinea pig. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY. 62, 1509-1521 (2008).
Asher, Matthias, Lippmann, Tanja, Epplen, Joerg T., Kraus, Cornelia, Trillmich, Fritz, and Sachser, Norbert. “Large males dominate: ecology, social organization, and mating system of wild cavies, the ancestors of the guinea pig”. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY 62.9 (2008): 1509-1521.
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