, Volume 25, Issue 6, pp 411-420

Status, reproductive success and fitness in Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra)

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Summary

Demographic data relating to herd size and stability are given for a population of Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra) under longterm observation. Temporal dispersion patterns of male and female offspring differed and were independent of the mother's status. Dispersion in females appeared to be related to physiological state, and dispersion in both sexes was related to age rather than changes in parental behaviour. Reproductive success of dominant and subordinate mares was equal and independent of age and social and reproductive variables. Fitness of dominant mares, however, was significantly higher than that of subordinates, the latter having a higher foal mortality, part of which could be attributable to dominants' aggression. The fitness of all males born was 1.6:1 compared with all females. Dominant mares produced significantly more daughters than sons. This trend was not found for subordinates. Mother's status was positively correlated with dominant status in her female offspring but not related to the subsequent status of her sons. Daughters had a more than twice as great a chance of breeding than sons. For maximum fitness gains, therefore, dominant mares should produce more daughters, since a high proportion of these would also have high status and fitness. This tendency is reflected in the sex ratio skewed towards females found for dominant mares.