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Analysis of the Mating System in the Black-Tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) by Likelihood of Paternity

David W. Foltz, John L. Hoogland
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1380592 706-712 First published online: 20 November 1981


Black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) live in colonies composed of contiguous but separate groups called coteries. A coterie usually contains one or two adult males, one to six adult females, and several yearlings and juveniles. For 50 of 52 litters produced by 46 females in 1979 and 1980, an electrophoretic analysis of four blood proteins indicated that the litter was fathered by one of the males in the home coterie. For 14 of 18 litters produced in coteries containing more than one adult male, paternity could be unambiguously assigned to one of the resident males. These results indicate that coteries, originally defined as units of social structure, are also units of reproduction.

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