Guillaume Body

Concordia University
Ph.D. candidate

Supervisor: Robert Weladji
Start: 2010-09-01
End: 2013-12-31
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Reindeer Rangifer tarandus female mating tactics: dealing with the fission-fusion dynamic system
Sexual selection in ungulates has been studied for a long time from the male point of view. However, scarce evidences of female mate choice (the inter-sexual selection) can be found behind male fight in well known populations and there is an increasing number of studies on this topic. Female can select male for indirect benefit (“good genes” hypothesis) or for direct benefit (“harassment avoidance” hypothesis) through different process independent of the benefit obtained. Inter-sexual selection can be coincidental if natural female behaviors induce a bias in male mating opportunities (e.g. through habitat selection, anti-predator aggregations), can be an indirect mate choice if female behaviors increase competition among males (e.g. by inducing fights) or can be a direct mate choice if they use criteria to select their mate (e.g. male antler size, but the level of harassment in a group could also be such a criterion). Females have to use a sampling tactic in this last case in order to evaluate a criterion. Reindeer mating system is based on a fission-fusion group dynamic system, groups often split and mix. In addition, male dominance is not stable. Therefore, daily group compositions are not able to record precisely the among groups trajectory of females and, more important, are not able to distinguish whether a female change between two group is active (=voluntary) or passive (=following the group dynamic). Using GPS data, I will establish the dynamic of groups during the mating season of a reindeer population, then I will investigate the active movement of females among groups as an indicator of their selection behavior.