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Age-dependent mating tactics in male bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus)

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We investigated mating tactics in three social/age classes of male bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus), i.e., adult territorial males (>5 years), young-adult non-territorial males (3-5 years) and subadult males (1-3 years). Territorial males were found to associate more frequently with females than subadult males, but young-adult males did not significantly differ from territorial males. In all three classes of males, the spatial distribution of the males relative to that of the females (i.e., their home range overlap) predicted the rate of association between males and females (Cole's coefficient of association). Territorial males showed very high rates of premating behaviour compared with the other two social/age classes and frequently attempted to monopolise females; however, copulation rates did not significantly differ between adult territorial and young-adult non-territorial males. Agonistic behaviour was most frequently initiated by territorial males when approached by a young-adult male, whereas aggressive interactions between two territorial males were far less frequent. Our results indicate that two age-dependent mating tactics exist in male bushbuck, that of adult territorial males and a sneak-like tactic in young-adult males. Nevertheless, territorial males may have an advantage over non-territorial males, because they have more unhampered opportunities to monitor females via deposited excreta in localised defecation sites.

Affiliations: 1: Makerere University, Department of Veterinary Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda; Unit of Evolutionary Biology and Systematic Zoology, Institute for Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht Str. 24-25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany; 2: Unit of Evolutionary Biology and Systematic Zoology, Institute for Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht Str. 24-25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany; Department of Zoology, University of Oklahoma, 730 Van Vleet Oval, Norman, OK 73019, USA; 3: Unit of Evolutionary Biology and Systematic Zoology, Institute for Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht Str. 24-25, 14476 Potsdam, Germany; 4: Biozentrum Grindel und Zoologisches Museum, Universität Hamburg, Martin-Luther-King Platz, 3, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

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