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Keywords:

  • matrilines;
  • polygyny;
  • social organization;
  • genetic structure;
  • wild boar

Abstract

Wild boars Sus scrofa have a social organization based on female groups that can include several generations of adults and offspring, and are thus likely matrilineal. However, little is known about the degree of relatedness between animals living in such groups or occupying the same core area of spatial activity. Also, polygynous male mating combined with matrilineal female groups can have strong influences on the genetic structure of populations. We used microsatellite genotyping combined with behavioral data to investigate the fine-scale population genetic structure and the mating system of wild boars in a multi-year study at Châteauvillain-Arc-en-Barrois (France). According to spatial genetic autocorrelation, females in spatial proximity were significantly inter-related. However, we found that numerous males contributed to the next generation, even within the same social group. Based on our genetic data and behavioral observations, wild boars in this population appear to have a low level of polygyny associated with matrilineal female groups, and infrequent multiple paternity. Mortality due to hunting may facilitate the breakup of what historically has been a more predominantly polygynous mating system, and likely accelerates the turnover of adults within the matrilineal groups.