Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Female Antarctic seals give cold shoulder to local males

08.02.2007
Female Antarctic fur seals will travel across a colony to actively seek males which are genetically diverse and unrelated, rather than mate with local dominant males.

These findings, published in this week's Nature, suggest that female choice may be more widespread in nature than previously believed and that such strategies enable species to maintain genetic diversity.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) studied a colony of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) on the subantarctic island of South Georgia. They discovered that female fur seals will travel up to 35 metres to find a mate with high genetic diversity and to avoid inbreeding (while the males will remain static waiting to be chosen).

This unique mating practice enables the seals to avoid the loss of genetic variation which occurs when females of the species only mate with dominant males with favoured traits. This is significant as studies have shown that more genetically diverse individuals tend to be more resistant to disease, carry fewer parasites, and in the case of males, are more aggressive and father more offspring.

... more about:
»Antarctic »Genetic »fur

It had long been assumed that the females were passive, simply mating with their nearest male. However, using paternity tests, the scientists demonstrated that only a quarter of the females conceived to their nearest male.

Dr Joe Hoffman, at the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, said: "Many mammalian species have mating systems that were traditionally viewed as being dominated by males fighting with each other for the right to mate with passive females. So it's not only remarkable to uncover active female choice in such a system, but this also suggests that female choice may be more widespread in nature than we previously thought."

Studies of other species have shown links between genetic variation and visual traits. The scientists believe that female fur seals may be able to assess male genetic traits visually by examining body size and condition, dominant behaviours, or territory quality. Another possibility is that females can use smell to determine whether they are related to the male.

Commenting on the practical implications for fur seal populations, Dr Hoffman said, "Antarctic fur seals are a key player in the Southern Ocean ecosystem. Scientists conducting research to preserve this ecosystem need to know as much about their biology as possible. The behaviours that we observe will impact upon the genetic diversity of fur seal populations and may have helped them recover so successfully from near extinction only 100 years ago. This could in turn affect how well they respond to future challenges such as climate change."

Antarctic fur seals were nearly hunted to extinction in the 17th and 18th Centuries by commercial sealers. There numbers are now estimated at between 2 and 3 million.

Genevieve Maul | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cam.ac.uk

Further reports about: Antarctic Genetic fur

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>