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.

Related Articles


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 March 29, 2015 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 March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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