Promiscuous mating in the harem-roosting fruit bat, Cynopterus sphinx


Kritika M. Garg, Fax: +91 80 23636662; E-mail:


Observations on mating behaviours and strategies guide our understanding of mating systems and variance in reproductive success. However, the presence of cryptic strategies often results in situations where social mating system is not reflective of genetic mating system. We present such a study of the genetic mating system of a harem-forming bat Cynopterus sphinx where harems may not be true indicators of male reproductive success. This temporal study using data from six seasons on paternity reveals that social harem assemblages do not play a role in the mating system, and variance in male reproductive success is lower than expected assuming polygynous mating. Further, simulations reveal that the genetic mating system is statistically indistinguishable from promiscuity. Our results are in contrast to an earlier study that demonstrated high variance in male reproductive success. Although an outcome of behavioural mating patterns, standardized variance in male reproductive success (Im) affects the opportunity for sexual selection. To gain a better understanding of the evolutionary implications of promiscuity for mammals in general, we compared our estimates of Im and total opportunity for sexual selection (Im/If, where If is standardized variance in female reproductive success) with those of other known promiscuous species. We observed a broad range of Im/If values across known promiscuous species, indicating our poor understanding of the evolutionary implications of promiscuous mating.