Mating system and paternity in woodchucks (Marmota monax)

  title={Mating system and paternity in woodchucks (Marmota monax)},
  author={Christine R. Maher and Melissa Duron},
Abstract Using genetic analyses, researchers have reported multiple paternity in many mammals, including ground-dwelling sciurids. Within the marmots, however, genetic mating systems have been described for relatively few species, and multiple paternity has been documented only in alpine marmots (Marmota marmota), a highly social, cooperative breeder. We used microsatellite markers to examine paternity and to describe the mating system of woodchucks (M. monax), whose social organization lies at… 

Sociality, Bateman’s gradients, and the polygynandrous genetic mating system of round-tailed ground squirrels (Xerospermophilus tereticaudus)

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This population of round-tailed ground squirrels, although aggregated spatially, did not exhibit high levels of social behavior nor subpopulation genetic structure, andalyses of the genetic relationships and sociality along a continuum, particularly within aggregates of individuals, may lead to insights into the origin and maintenance of social behaviors.

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Comparisons are used to show that infanticide primarily evolves in social mammals in which reproduction is monopolized by a minority of males, and is successfully prevented by female sexual promiscuity, a paternity dilution strategy.

Mammalian Reproductive Plasticity in Response to Resource Availability.

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Findings indicate that Himalayan marmots have adapted to the plateau environment partly through convergent evolution of the ND3 protein with other plateau animals, however, this protein is not the only strategy to adapt to high altitudes, as there may have other methods to Adapt to this environment.

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Genetic relatedness and space use in a behaviorally flexible species of marmot, the woodchuck (Marmota monax)

  • C. R. Maher
  • Environmental Science
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 2009
Woodchucks displayed spatial patterns seen in other, more social species of ground-dwelling sciurids, including high population density associated with the study site's location within a suburban environment, high dispersal costs, and abundant food.

Social structure and facultative mating systems of hoary marmots (Marmota caligata)

It is revealed that the mating systems within colonies of this species are more flexible than previously thought, potentially reflecting local variation in resource availability.

Cooperative breeding in marmots

This paper identifies cooperative breeding when: individuals delay dispersal beyond reproductive maturity, reproduction in mature individuals is suppressed, and when non-breeders provide alloparental care, and notes that marmots provide an excellent taxon in which to study the evolution of cooperative breeding.


The spacing system of a high-density population of Marmota monax in southern Maine exhibited intrasexual territoriality, and Philopatry and timing of dispersal also vary in this species and have implications for the evolution of sociality.

Reproductive behaviour and multiple paternity of California ground squirrels

The mating system of the California ground squirrel, Spermophilus beecheyi, was examined to determine the incidence of multiple paternity of litters and the circumstances under which it occurs, with the highest frequency yet reported for a natural population of any species.


Using 3 different criteria allowed a greater number of male paternity assignments to be inferred than would have been possible when using software program CERVUS alone, and increased confidence in these results.

Microsatellite loci in Columbian ground squirrels Spermophilus columbianus

Paternity analysis of nine microsatellites in the Columbian ground squirrel and their amplification in three other species within the same subtribe and one species from the subtribe Marmotini and two more distantly related sciurids is conducted.

Extra-pair paternity in the monogamous Alpine marmot revealed by nuclear DNA microsatellite analysis

The results indicate that the genetic mating system of the Alpine marmot is quite different from a strictly monogamous breeding system.

The evolution of marmot sociality: I. Why disperse late?

Prolonged toleration of offspring in marmots was hypothesized to be a means of preventing dispersal of undersized young, or more generally (2) continued parental investment, increasing the probability of descendant survival and reproduction, but these hypotheses are not supported.

Male reproductive success in a promiscuous mammal: behavioural estimates compared with genetic paternity

A comparison of behavioural and genetic measures of male reproductive success in a mammalian mating system in which both sexes are highly promiscuous suggests that mating tactics differ between age groups, and that alternative mating strategies among adults that do not involve forming consorts with many females also confer mating success.