Association patterns among male and female spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) reflect male mate choice
- Cite this article as:
- Szykman, M., Engh, A.L., Van Horn, R.C. et al. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2001) 50: 231. doi:10.1007/s002650100356
Although female animals tend to be choosier than males in selecting mates, sexual selection theory predicts that males should also be choosy when female fecundity varies. Reproductive success among female spotted hyenas varies greatly with social rank. Our goals were therefore to determine whether male hyenas preferentially associate with high-ranking females, and whether male preferences are affected by female reproductive state. Interactions between adult males and females were observed intensively, and association indices calculated for all male-female pairs, over a 7-year period in one population of free-living hyenas. Males initiated most affiliative interactions with females, and males associated most closely with females that were likeliest to be fertile. High- and middle-ranking males associated most closely with high-ranking females, but low-ranking males associated equally closely with females in all rank categories. We used molecular markers to determine the paternity of cubs born during the study period, and found that sires associated more closely with the mothers of those cubs than did non-sires, particularly during the last months before conception. These association data indicate that male spotted hyenas do indeed exhibit selective mate choice, and that they prefer females likeliest to maximize male reproductive success.