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Genetic relationships within colonies suggest genetic monogamy in the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber)


Social monogamy, considered rare in mammals, has been described in two species of beaver, the Eurasion beaver (Castor fiber), and the North American beaver (Castor Canadensis). Social monogamy, however, does not necessarily imply genetic monogamy. For example, in group living mammals, females may engage in extra-pair copulations as a result of increased female mate choice opportunities. Recently, following genetic analysis, a wide range of genetic relationships among colony members have been documented in the North American beaver, including extra-pair paternity. Here, we used microsatellite loci to provide parentage estimates from colonies of the Eurasian beaver in the Kirov region, Russia. No evidence for the presence of any extra-pair young was detected. However, in two cases, we found a pair of unrelated males inhabiting a single colony. Our results suggest that while colonies may comprise both related and unrelated individuals, the genetic mating system appears to match that of the previously inferred social monogamy.

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We highly appreciate the help of hunters from the Kotelnich regional hunter union. CF is particularly grateful for the assistance given by C Nowak and RHS Kraus. AS was supported by the Charles University in Prague (projects GAUK 151210 and SVV 260 087/2014). PM and AS thank Z Csiebreiová for her technical assistance in the laboratory. We are also grateful to T Albrecht and three anonymous reviewers for insightful comments on the previous version of the manuscript.

Ethical standards

Research followed Russian federal hunting law (2009 N 209).

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Correspondence to Pavel Munclinger.

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Communicated by: Mabel D. Giménez

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Syrůčková, A., Saveljev, A.P., Frosch, C. et al. Genetic relationships within colonies suggest genetic monogamy in the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). Mamm Res 60, 139–147 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13364-015-0219-z

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  • Extra-pair paternity
  • Family group
  • Mating system
  • Spatial structure
  • Pairwise relatedness