Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Loyal Alligators Display Mating Habits Of Birds

Date:
October 8, 2009
Source:
Wiley - Blackwell
Summary:
Alligators display the same loyalty to their mating partners as birds. The ten-year-study reveals that up to 70% of females chose to remain with their partner, often for many years.

New studies show that alligators display the same loyalty to their mating partners as birds.
Credit: iStockphoto/Scott Winegarden

Alligators display the same loyalty to their mating partners as birds reveals a study published today in Molecular Ecology. The ten-year-study by scientists from the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory reveals that up to 70% of females chose to remain with their partner, often for many years.

The team, led by Drs. Travis Glenn, Ruth Elsey, Tracey Tuberville and Stacey Lance, spent a decade examining the mating system of alligators living in the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge (RWR) in Louisiana. Once they had successfully re-trapped a female they recognized the potential to examine individual behaviour over multiple mating seasons and determine if mate fidelity or pair bonding occurs.

“Given how incredibly open and dense the alligator population is at RWR we didn’t expect to find fidelity,” said Lance. “To actually find that 70% of our re-trapped females showed mate fidelity was really incredible. I don’t think any of us expected that the same pair of alligators that bred together in 1997 would still be breeding together in 2005 and may still be producing nests together to this day.”

This new discovery gives a new insight into the complex mating system of the alligator. Parental care is typically lacking in most reptiles, but not crocodilians who display parental care though nurturing young and defending the nest. In 2001 multiple paternity was discovered as the alligator mating system, yet it remains unknown as to how this benefits the species

However, while the females at RWR move freely through male territories, leading to high mate encounter rates, this study reveals that many alligators choose to mate with the same partner over many mating seasons. This amounts to the first evidence for partial mate fidelity in any crocodilian species and reveals a similarity in mating patterns between alligators and bird species.

Crocodilians are the sole surviving reptilian archosaurs, a group of ancient reptiles that includes dinosaurs and gave rise to birds. It is this evolutionary relationship to birds which means crocodilians are in a unique phylogenetic position to provide information about the ancestral mating systems of both birds and many dinosaurs.

“In this study, by combining molecular techniques with field studies we were able to figure something out about a species that we never would have known otherwise,” concludes Lance. “Hopefully future studies will also lead to some unexpected and equally fascinating results.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley - Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S.L. Lance, T.D. Tuberville, L. Dueck, C. Holz-schietinger, P.L. Trosclair III, R.M. Elsey, T.C. Glenn. Multi-year multiple paternity and mate fidelity in the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis. Molecular Ecology, 2009; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04373.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley - Blackwell. "Loyal Alligators Display Mating Habits Of Birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091007081534.htm>.
Wiley - Blackwell. (2009, October 8). Loyal Alligators Display Mating Habits Of Birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091007081534.htm
Wiley - Blackwell. "Loyal Alligators Display Mating Habits Of Birds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091007081534.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) 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