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 Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex

nachricht New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>