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Proc Biol Sci. 1997 May 22;264(1382):675-81.

Genetic and behavioural evidence of monogamy in a mammal, Kirk's dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii).

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  • 1Large Animal Research Group, Department of Zoology, Cambridge, UK.


Little is known about the mating behaviour of monogamous mammals. Here, we present behavioural and genetic evidence of fidelity in a socially monogamous dwarf antelope, Kirk's dik-dik. DNA microsatellite analysis revealed no evidence of extra-pair paternity (EPP) in dik-diks: mothers' partners matched the paternal genotype in all 12 juveniles tested. One likely reason for the absence of EPP is that males guard their mates closely during oestrus and over-mark all female scent, thereby reducing the likelihood of other males attempting to mate. In addition, males may be limited in their ability to search for extra-pair populations (EPCs) by activities associated with pair-bond maintenance. Year-round, males maintained proximity within pairs, followed their females' activity patterns, and spent approximately 64% of their time with their partners. However, males did attempt to obtain EPCs when the opportunity arose, and genetic monogamy in dik-diks is probably best explained by the behaviour of females: in contrast to many monogamous female birds, female dik-diks do not appear to seek EPC partners. We propose that females avoid extra-pair males because they are unable to mate with them without instigating a potentially dangerous conflict.

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