oa African Zoology - Mate desertion in response to female promiscuity in the socially monogamous aardwolf Proteles cristatus

Volume 23, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



In most monogamous breeding systems males demonstrate a high degree of paternal care. With the significant costs of this parental investment, it is clearly in the interests of males to raise only their own offspring. It has therefore been predicted, but never observed in the field, that if the female of a monogamous male is promiscuous, he will desert her and attempt to breed with an alternative female. Here we report a case of such a mate desertion in the aardwolf Proteles cristatus. We suggest, however, that mate desertion should occur only rarely in response to female promiscuity. This is because a cuckolded male may still be raising some of his own offspring, and should desert only on the rare occasions when an alternative receptive female is exclusively available to himself.

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