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Keywords:

  • dissassortative mating;
  • good genes;
  • heterozygosity;
  • major histocompatability complex;
  • sexual selection

Abstract

We investigated reproduction in a semi-free-ranging population of a polygynous primate, the mandrill, in relation to genetic relatedness and male genetic characteristics, using neutral microsatellite and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genotyping. We compared genetic dissimilarity to the mother and genetic characteristics of the sire with all other potential sires present at the conception of each offspring (193 offspring for microsatellite genetics, 180 for MHC). The probability that a given male sired increased as pedigree relatedness with the mother decreased, and overall genetic dissimilarity and MHC dissimilarity with the mother increased. Reproductive success also increased with male microsatellite heterozygosity and MHC diversity. These effects were apparent despite the strong influence of dominance rank on male reproductive success. The closed nature of our study population is comparable to human populations for which MHC-associated mate choice has been reported, suggesting that such mate choice may be especially important in relatively isolated populations with little migration to introduce genetic variation.