Weak Polygyny in California Sea Lions and the Potential for Alternative Mating Strategies
Female aggregation and male territoriality are considered to be hallmarks of polygynous mating systems. The development of genetic parentage assignment has called into question the accuracy of behavioral traits in predicting true mating systems. In this study we use 14 microsatellite markers to explore the mating system of one of the most behaviorally polygynous species, the California sea lion (Zalophus californianus). We sampled a total of 158 female-pup pairs and 99 territorial males across two breeding rookeries (San Jorge and Los Islotes) in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Fathers could be identified for 30% of pups sampled at San Jorge across three breeding seasons and 15% of sampled pups at Los Islotes across two breeding seasons. Analysis of paternal relatedness between the pups for which no fathers were identified (sampled over four breeding seasons at San Jorge and two at Los Islotes) revealed that few pups were likely to share a father...
Flatz, Ramona; González-Suárez, Manuela; Young, Julie K.; Herandez-Camacho, Claudi J.; Immel, Aaron J.; and Gerber, Leah R., "Weak Polygyny in California Sea Lions and the Potential for Alternative Mating Strategies" (2012). Wildland Resources Faculty Publications. Paper 1676.