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 Microscope measures muscle weakness
16.11.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Good preparation is half the digestion
16.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>