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Patterns of relatedness and parentage in an asocial, polyandrous striped hyena population


Aaron P Wagner, Fax: 603-457-0304; E-mail:


We investigated patterns of relatedness and reproduction in a population of striped hyenas in which individuals are behaviourally solitary but form polyandrous spatial groups consisting of one adult female and multiple adult males. Group-mate males were often close relatives, but were unrelated or distantly related in some cases, indicating that male coalitions are not strictly a result of philopatry or dispersal with cohorts of relatives. Most male–female pairs within spatial groups were unrelated or only distantly related. Considering patterns of relatedness between groups, relatedness was significantly higher among adult males living in non-neighbouring ranges than among neighbouring males. Mean relatedness among male–female dyads was highest for group-mates, but relatedness among non-neighbouring males and females was also significantly higher than among dyads of opposite-sex neighbours. Female–female relatedness also increased significantly with increasing geographic separation. These unusual and unexpected patterns may reflect selection to settle in a nonadjacent manner to reduce inbreeding and/or competition among relatives for resources (both sexes), or mates (males). Finally, resident males fathered the majority of the resident female's cubs, but extra-group paternity was likely in 31% of the cases examined, and multiple paternity was likely in half of the sampled litters.