Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Female Pronghorns Choose Vigorous Mates; Offspring More Likely To Survive

Date:
November 8, 2006
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
When a female animal compares males to choose a mate, she can't order a laboratory genetic screen for each suitor. Instead, she has to rely on external cues that may indicate genetic quality. Until now, biologists have focused on elaborate ornaments, such as the peacock's tail, as cues that females might use.

Female pronghorns select mates like this buck, through means other than male ornamentation.
Credit: John Byers

When a female animal compares males to choose a mate, she can't order a laboratory genetic screen for each suitor. Instead, she has to rely on external cues that may indicate genetic quality. Until now, biologists have focused on elaborate ornaments, such as the peacock's tail, as cues that females might use.

The thorny problem has been to explain how the correlation between male genetic quality and ornament quality can be maintained. If an ornament gives a male a mating advantage, then evolution would rapidly move to the point where all males, regardless of genetic quality, have high-quality ornaments.

"Female mate choice is likely a very important evolutionary force that does much more than select for ornaments in a few species," said John Byers of the University of Idaho. "It may be universally important in maintaining population genetic quality."

In work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Byers has shown that certain females can choose good genes in a species that does not have ornaments, such as the American pronghorn, an antelope-like mammal that evolved in North America. Byers has been studying pronghorn at the National Bison Range, a 30-square-mile National Wildlife Refuge in northwestern Montana, for 20 years, and recognizes all individual pronghorn in the population.

In recent research, Byers and his coauthor Lisette Waits, also of the University of Idaho, obtained genetic markers for all pronghorn individuals in the population and assigned paternity to the offspring.

"The females' mate sampling creates a small group of males that each year sire more than one-half of all young," said Byers, who is currently serving as a program officer in NSF's biological sciences directorate. "These are the males that, under the stringent female sampling process, have shown they are the most vigorous."

The offspring of these vigorous males also are more likely to survive to weaning, Byers found. "This advantage is due to faster growth rates," he said.

Byers also showed that these faster-growing fawns suckle less from their mothers than do the offspring sired by less-attractive males. He monitored the population for several years, and found the offspring of frequently chosen males continued to have a survival advantage for as long as five years.

The research results appear in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Female Pronghorns Choose Vigorous Mates; Offspring More Likely To Survive." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061023192607.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2006, November 8). Female Pronghorns Choose Vigorous Mates; Offspring More Likely To Survive. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061023192607.htm
National Science Foundation. "Female Pronghorns Choose Vigorous Mates; Offspring More Likely To Survive." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061023192607.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo

AP (July 30, 2014) River otters were hitting the water slides to beat the summer heatwave on Wednesday at Ichikawa City's Zoological and Botanical Garden. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins