The sexual politics of hyenas
Males do best with friendly attitude, not stalking
LONDON, May 14-Friendly rather than aggressive behavior is the way to win the ladies, judging by research into hyenas' mating patterns by British and German scientists published on Wednesday. Scientists used genetic techniques to study the mating tactics used by three clans of spotted hyenas from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
'I suspect that many might think females would choose to mate with socially dominant males ... but our results show this is not the case with hyenas.'
-- MARION EAST
Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research MALE HYENAS THAT tried to be friendly rather than aggressive had far more luck with the ladies, according to their study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Males did not get very far if they tried to coerce or monopolize female hyenas. Those that took the time and energy to develop relationships had more luck in siring offspring.
"What this paper reveals is the enormous amount of sexual politics among members of large hyena clans. I suspect that many might think females would choose to mate with socially dominant males ... but our results show this is not the case with hyenas," said Marion East, from the Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin. "The friendlier male hyenas are, and the longer they stick around, the more favorably they are looked on by female hyenas," she added.
Females were impressed by "grooming, greeting, and amicable gestures," according to the study. Shadowing a prospective partner for weeks or months or trying to defend a female from the attention of other male hyenas was considered a turn-off.
In another blow to male self-confidence, the study showed that some males were simply bad at understanding when females were receptive and fertile.
To further undermine attempts by dominant male hyenas to monopolize paternity and counter infanticide, some females would mate with several partners.
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