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Why Do Female Elephant Seals Prefer To Mate With O

1111 words - 5 pages

Why Do Female Elephant Seals Prefer To Mate With One Male? Biology It is known that elephant seals have a large sex dimorphism in size among all mammals. They have a mixed life style, consisting of an aquatic phase and a land phase (breeding and molting). However, due to their strong aquatic adaptation, their terrestrial mobility is greatly reduced. They feed during their aquatic phase and fast during their land phase. While submerged in their aquatic phase, the elephant seals do a lot of deep sea diving in order to obtain enough food for their yearly land cycle. The seal's land phase is composed of about three month in which they come to land to give birth and mate before going back to ...view middle of the document...

However a male's dominance is constantly being tested and interrupted by threats and challenges from other alpha males. The males also loose a lot of energy during this time which might cause the male his life "immediately after his most successful year on the beach, presumably because of the degenerative effects of his incessant struggle to maintain higher rank," which " has huge payoffs in reproductive success" (Daly and Wilson 64). The males however increase their chances of mating by increasing the rate at which they court females. More attempted mating usually means more actual mating.Mating System.The tendency for elephant seals to group upon arrival on land favors the evolution of a harem. In this society, one or two alpha males have control over the females of that group/harem. They seem to have a polypynous mating system and it is known that where males are larger than females a polygyny system will prevail. Most females tend join harems as not to get harassed for mating by other ambitious males.Discussion.Even though evidence indicates that females can actively choose their mates, the question of why females elephant seals prefer to mate with one male at random, remains largely unresolved. In some cases, it seems that the females elephant seals favor mating with a larger male simply because he is easy to locate. Reducing the amount of time they take to find a mate may reduce a there risk of being harassed or even killed. For many mammals, natural selection appears to favor females who choose mates that provide them with some direct benefit that will increase their fecundity, their survival or the survival of their offspring. Such benefits might include food, a safe territory or even the prospect of less harassment. It also appears that the females are harassed mainly because there is a shortage of mating for the rest of the males available, which leads to them...

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