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Prevalence of allosuckling behaviour in Subantarctic fur seal pups


Nico de Bruyn, PJ and Cameron, EZ and Tosh, CA and Oosthuizen, C and Reisinger, RR and Mufanadzo, NT and Phalanndwa, MV and Postma, M and Wege, M and van der Merwe, DS and Bester, MN, Prevalence of allosuckling behaviour in Subantarctic fur seal pups, Mammalian Biology, 75, (6) pp. 555-560. ISSN 1616-5047 (2010) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1016/j.mambio.2009.11.004


Non-offspring maternal care should be rare due to the high costs of raising offspring, particularly lactation, but nonetheless occurs in a variety of taxa. Misguided parental care, associated with recognition errors and/or inattentiveness by lactating females, has been hypothesized as an explanation for allolactation in mammals. In an extension of this hypothesis, we suggest that milk-stealing is parasitism instigated by non-filial offspring, and that maternal behaviour is of secondary interest in an evolutionary context if she is unaware of the interaction. We provide evidence for frequent milk-stealing attempts by Subantarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus tropicalis) pups, including an example of sustained non-maternal care (> three months) for one pup during the confirmed absence of his mother, leading to a weaning mass equal to the population mean. We also present only the second account of fostering/twins in the species at this locality. We suggest that rather than the hitherto suggested rare and anomalous behaviour, milk-stealing behaviour (while not always successful) is common. © 2009 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Behavioural ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Cameron, EZ (Professor Elissa Cameron)
ID Code:67499
Year Published:2010
Web of Science® Times Cited:4
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2011-03-04
Last Modified:2014-12-18

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