Lifetime mating success, sexual selection and life history of fallow bucks (Dama dama)
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We used data from a long-term study (15 years) of fallow deer to report for the first time the lifetime mating success, overall variance in lifetime mating success, and age-specific mortality levels of males. Fallow bucks that gain matings have higher social dominance rank, higher rates of fighting, and invest more in vocal display during the breeding season than unsuccessful males. Therefore, we examined if mating was associated with trade-offs in terms of survival, lifespan, and mating potential. We found that the variance in lifetime mating success was very high: 34 (10.7%) males mated, and of those, the 10 most successful males gained 73% of all matings (n=934). Mortality rates were generally high and only 22.3% (71/318) of males reached social maturity, i.e., 4 years. The oldest male was 13 years old. We found that fallow bucks that mated were not more likely to die during the following year, did not suffer from a reduction in lifespan, and did not incur lower mating success later in life as a result of mating during the early years of social maturity. Our results show that mating males at age 5 years (and possibly 9 years) may be more likely to survive than non-mating males. Additionally, the number of matings gained by males during the first years of social maturity was positively correlated with lifespan. We suggest that mating males are of higher quality than non-mating males because they are not more likely to incur trade-offs as a result of their increased reproductive efforts.
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