Sexually selected behaviour: red squirrel males search for reproductive success

The Journal of Animal Ecology
Jeffrey E LaneD W Coltman


1. Differential male reproductive success is commonplace in mammals and frequently attributed to variation in morphological traits that provide individuals with a competitive advantage in female defence mating systems. Other mammalian mating systems, however, have received comparatively little attention and correlates of male reproductive success in them are less well understood. 2. We studied a free-ranging population of North American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus Erxleben) exhibiting year-round individual territoriality. Males must temporarily vacate their territories to locate spatially dispersed receptive females, thereby setting the stage for a scramble competition mating system. 3. We predicted that both male annual mating success (measured as the number of females copulated with) and annual reproductive success (measured as the number of offspring sired) would be positively correlated with both search ability (measured as the number of oestrous females located over the mating season) and effort (measured as mating season home range size), generating directional sexual selection on these two metrics. 4. Mating season home ranges of males showed, on average, an almost 10-fold increase relative to those measured d...Continue Reading


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