Extra-pair paternity in the monogamous Alpine marmot revealed by nuclear DNA microsatellite analysis
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The genetic parentage and pedigrees of 35 litters from 12 family groups of monogamous Alpine marmot (Marmota marmota) in the French Alps were analyzed using six hypervariable sequence repeat nuclear loci (microsatellites). All of the members of these family groups were sampled during a 5-year period. Hairs taken directly from animals served as a source of DNA for amplification of the loci. Our results indicate that the genetic mating system of the Alpine marmot is quite different from a strictly monogamous breeding system. Extra-pair paternity occurred in 11 of the 35 litters (31.4%). Of the 134 juveniles typed, 26 (19.4%) could be attributed to extra-pair copulation (EPC). We examine hypotheses which could explain the evolution of EPC and discuss the different patterns of extra-pair mating.
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