Behavioural and endocrine correlates to the aardwolf mating system
Marneweck, D and Cameron, EZ and Ganswindt, A and Dalerum, F, Behavioural and endocrine correlates to the aardwolf mating system, Mammalian Biology, 80, (1) pp. 31-38. ISSN 1616-5047 (2015) [Refereed Article]
It is now widely recognized that mating systems contain both social and genetic components, where social components describe patterns of social associations while genetic components reflect patterns of mating activities. In many species these two components do not coincide. If the level of sexual asymmetry differs between these two components, for instance in monogamous pairs with high levels of infidelity, each component may impose different selection pressures on behavioural and physiological characteristics. However, we have limited knowledge of how social and genetic components influence behaviour and physiology. The aardwolf (Proteles cristata) is a small insectivorous hyaenid, which has been described as socially monogamous but sexually promiscuous. In this study, we evaluated if aardwolf space use, scent marking, foraging behaviour and endocrine fluctuations relate to predictions from social monogamy or polygamous mating. Our results did not show sex differences in behaviour or physiology that would be consistent with predictions from polygamous mating, and we suggest that social mate associations may regulate the observed endocrine and behavioural parameters more than actual mating patterns in this species. Such an interpretation would suggest that the fitness effect of promiscuous mating may be low, since it appears to impose little selection pressure on mating related behaviour. We stress that it is then unclear how promiscuous mating is maintained in this socially monogamous species.