Prairie Dogs Avoid Extreme Inbreeding

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Science  26 Mar 1982:
Vol. 215, Issue 4540, pp. 1639-1641
DOI: 10.1126/science.215.4540.1639


Black-tailed prairie dogs (Rodentia: Sciuridae: Cynomys ludovicianus) live in colonies composed of contiguous but separate family groups called coteries. During the 6 years that individuals in a colony were observed, they almost nevermated with close genetic relatives. Inbreeding is avoided in four ways: (i) a young male usually leaves his natal coterie before breeding, but his female relatives remain; (ii) an adult male usually leaves his breeding coterie before his daughters mature; (iii) a young female is less likely to come into estrus if her father is in her coterie; and (iv) an estrous female behaviorally avoids mating with a father, son, or brother in her coterie.

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