Is inbreeding avoidance driving female mate choice in Verreaux's sifaka lemurs?
Taboada Zapatero, Mireia
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Females of different species might exert female mate choice for different reasons, one of them the aim of avoiding inbreeding. In this study I examine the implication of inbreeding avoidance as a mechanism driving female mate choice in Verreaux’s sifaka lemurs (Propithecus verreauxi). In fact, in this species females are dominant and appear to be able to choose certain males to mate with, while observations indicate that rank, body size, canine size and proportions of fights won are not factors influencing female mate choice. So I hypothesized that females mate choice is driven by inbreeding avoidance in Verreaux’s sifaka lemurs. Tissue and fecal samples were collected in the Kirindy Mitea National Park in western Madagascar as a source of DNA. Parentage was assigned for a sample of the population and relatedness coefficients between dams and sires were estimated and compared to those of between random female and male pairs, dams and other candidate sires within the population and within the groups were the offspring were conceived. I found that there were no significant differences in none of the comparisons which means that Verreaux’s sifaka females do not mate more with males that are more distantly related to them. I concluded that inbreeding avoidance does not appear to be the main force driving female mate choice in Verreaux’s sifaka lemurs and I addressed explanations for these findings. With this study I contribute to our knowledge of female mate choice in lemurs.