Social assemblages and mating relationships in prairie dogs: A DNA fingerprint analysis

Steven E. Travis, C. N. Slobodchikoff, Paul Keim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Mating system characterizations have been hindered by difficulties in accurately assigning parentage to offspring. We investigated the relationship between social assemblages and mating relationships in a territorial harem polygynous mammal, the Gunnison's prairie dog, using a combination of behavioral and molecular analyses. We demonstrate multiple paternity and an extraordinarily high incidence of extraterritorial fertilizations (i.e., 61% of all progeny), in combination with the existence of female kin groups. On this basis, we conclude that social assemblages alone provide a poor description of the Gunnison's prairie dog mating system, and suggest several potential reasons for the maintenance of territoriality in this species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-100
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioral Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Cynomys gunnisoni
  • DNA fingerprinting
  • Kin group
  • Mating system
  • Paternity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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