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Research article2006Peer reviewed

Socially induced delayed primiparity in brown bears Ursus arctos

Stoen OG, Zedrosser A, Wegge P, Swenson JE

Abstract

Reproductive suppression through behavioral or physiological means is common in group-living and cooperative breeding mammals, but to our knowledge it has not been shown in wild large carnivores other than those with a clear form of social organization. Brown bear (Ursus arctos) females form matrilinear assemblages with related females using a common and largely exclusive area. Behavioral reproductive suppression might develop due to a hierarchical system among females within a matrilinear assemblage or due to inbreeding avoidance, because male brown bears can overlap with their daughters. We tested whether natal dispersal influenced the age of primiparity. We predicted that emigrant females, geographically removed from maternal or paternal influence, would reproduce earlier than philopatric females. The average age of primiparity was 4.3 years in females that dispersed outside their mother's home range (n=8) and 5.2 years in philopatric females (n=10). Only the overlap with the mother's home range, and not body size, body mass, growth, local population density, or overlap with the father's home range, had a significant influence on the age of primiparity. The ultimate role of reproductive suppression for brown bears is likely to avoid inbreeding or to minimize resource competition. Due to the low risk of inbreeding and frequent exposure of young females to unrelated males, we conclude that resource competition within female hierarchies causes reproductive suppression in young females

Published in

Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
2006, Volume: 61, number: 1, pages: 1-8 Publisher: SPRINGER

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

    Publication identifier

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265-006-0231-z

    Permanent link to this page (URI)

    https://res.slu.se/id/publ/21237