Apollonio, Marco and Brivio, Francesca and Rossi, Iva and Bassano, Bruno and Grignolio, Stefano (2013) Consequences of snowy winters on male mating strategies and reproduction in a mountain ungulate. Behavioural Processes, Vol. 98 , p. 44-50. eISSN 1872-8308. Article.
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tAlternative mating tactics (AMTs) are intrasexual variants in mating behaviour of several species rangingfrom arthropods to mammals. Male AMTs coexist between and within populations. In particular, maleungulates rarely adopt just one tactic throughout their lifetime. Tactics commonly change according tointernal factors (age, body size, condition) and external conditions (weather, resources, predation, ani-mal density). However, the influence of weather has not yet been investigated in upper vertebrates. Suchinfluence may be relevant in species whose rutting period occurs late in fall or in winter, when envi-ronmental conditions and the snow cover in particular may vary considerably. We detected two AMTsin Alpine ibex (Capra ibex) males: older and full-grown males mainly adopted the tending tactic, whileyounger males usually pursued an alternative one (coursing tactic). Weather was found to influence theuse of AMTs by males: in snowy mating seasons, the coursing tactic was no longer used due to difficultiesin moving through deep snow. In snowy rutting periods, males appeared to delay or even avoid matingactivities and a decrease of births was reported in the second part of the following birth season. Snowcover may have a negative effect on population dynamics by reducing the recruitment and on populationgenetic variability, as a consequence of poorer mating opportunities. Studies on factors affecting mat-ing behaviour and leading to a reduced availability of mates and a decrease in female productivity areespecially relevant in species, like Alpine ibex, whose genetic variability is low.
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