Females choose mates based on genetic relatedness in a small dasyurid marsupial, the agile antechinus (Antechinus agilis)

Marissa Parrott, Simon John Ward, Peter Derek Mcneill Temple-Smith, Lynne Selwood

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Females in a variety of taxa mate with more than one male during a single oestrus and exhibit mate preferences for genetically compatible males, but the influence of female mate choice on siring success is not clearly understood. Whether females choose to mate with more than one male or endure forced copulations is also often unknown. Here, we examined the effects of genetic relatedness on female mate choice and siring success in a small semelparous carnivorous marsupial, the agile antechinus (Antechinus agilis), during two consecutive breeding seasons. Experimental trials were conducted in captivity over periods of 72 hours using interconnected enclosures in which female antechinus could choose to access any of four separated males, but males were only able to access females that entered their quarters. Females had access to two genetically similar and two genetically dissimilar males simultaneously and all behavioural interactions were observed and scored from continuous video recordings. Genetic similarity between mates and paternity of young was determined by microsatellite analyses. Some females chose to enter and mate with more than one male during a single oestrus period. Although females investigated all males, they spent significantly more time visiting, and mated more times with, genetically dissimilar males. Males that were genetically dissimilar to the female sired 88 of subsequent offspring. Whilst males mated readily with most females, they rejected the advances of some receptive females, indicating a previously unexpected level of male mate choice. The results show that genetic relatedness between mates has a significant influence on mate choice, breeding and siring success in the agile antechinus.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0122381
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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