Study Proves Urban Coyotes Are 100-Percent Monogamous

More on PawNation: Coyotes, Exotic, Heart-Warming, Mating

According to Science Daily, coyotes living in cities do not stray from their mates for their entire lives. Scientists with Ohio State University genetically sampled 236 coyotes in the Chicago area over a six-year period and found no evidence of polygamy whatsoever. Monogamy was even found where coyotes existed in high population densities and had plenty of food to eat, which are conditions that typically cause them to stray from their normal monogamy.

The scientists used live traps to catch the coyotes for the study and the pups were dug from their dens and held by the hand. The traps were either padded foothold traps or non-choking neck snares.

"I was surprised we didn't find any cheating going on. Even with all the opportunities for the coyotes to philander, they really don't," said study co-author Stan Gehrt, a wildlife ecologist with Ohio State's School of Environment and Natural Resources.

Scientists speculate that the coyotes' loyalty to one another may be the key to their urban success. Male coyotes have a clear genetic stake in helping their pups survive because they know that they are their offspring.

Coyotes maintain monogamy through long-term pair bonding and each do their part in the relationship. A male coyote guards his female, while the female raises her litter with the help of her male. During pregnancy, the male and female spend all of their time together, finding food and marking their territory.

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Gibbon apes, wolves, termites, coyotes, barn owls, beavers, bald eagles, golden eagles, condors, swans, brolga cranes, French angel fish, sandhill cranes, pigeons, prions (a seabird), red-tailed hawks, anglerfish, ospreys, prairie voles (a rodent), and black vultures — are a few that mate for life.

Of course, it depends on what you mean by "mate for life." These creatures do mate for life in the social sense of living together in pairs but they rarely stay strictly faithful. About 90 percent of the 9,700 bird species pair, mate, and raise chicks together — some returning together to the same nest site year after year. Males, however, often raise other males’ offspring unknowingly. DNA testing reveals that the social-pair male did not father 10, 20, and sometimes 40 percent of the chicks.

Black vultures, though, discourage infidelity. All nearby vultures attack any vulture caught philandering.

Only about 3 percent of the 4,000 mammal species are monogamous (and Homo sapiens isn’t one of them). Beavers, otters, bats, wolves, some foxes, a few hoofed animals, and some primates live together in social pairs but dally sexually much as birds do.

Wolves, for example, are generally monogamous but also breed polygamously if the male is unrelated to the female and prey is plentiful. Moreover, they sometimes have more than one mate in a lifetime, says Dan Stahler, biologist at the Yellowstone Gray Wolf Restoration Program run by the National Park Service. This happens "if one mate dies, gets kicked out of the pack, or is physically unable to breed due to injury, illness, etc."

One species is absolutely monogamous. In the black darkness of the deep sea, the tiny male anglerfish (perhaps one tenth the female’s size) detects and follows the scent trail of a female of his own species. Once found, he bites his chosen one and hangs on. His skin fuses to hers, their bodies grow together (he gets his food through a common blood supply and becomes essentially a sperm producing organ). They mate for life — a short life for the male.

September 27 2012 at 7:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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