Behaviour 2019
Female mate choice despite allied sexual coercion in Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins
Molly H.F. McEntee1, Vivienne Foroughirad1, Ewa Krzyszczyk1, Alexis L. Levengood2, Eric M. Patterson1,3, Megan M. Wallen1, CÚline Frѐre2, Janet Mann1. 1Georgetown University, Washington, DC, United States; 2University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia; 3Office of Protected Resources, NOAA, Silver Springs, MD, United States

The degree to which male coercive mating strategies limit female mate choice is debated. Male Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) form alliances to harass and mate guard females. Females invest substantially in each offspring; gestation lasts one year and lactation lasts three to eight years. Consequently, maximizing offspring fitness via mate choice may be vital. Here, we integrate 35+ years of longitudinal behavioral observations and genetic data on Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia, to investigate the role of female mate choice in a coercive mating system. Results from a GLMM (N = 70 paternities) suggest that male age, home range overlap, and previous social association (simple ratio index), butánot relatedness to the female impact the likelihood of paternity. Middle-aged (age 20 - 35) males who are local to and socially associated with a female are more likely to sire her offspring. Additionally, females have stronger social bonds with the males who sire their offspring than with the males’ alliance partners (permutation tests). Our results suggest that female mate choice may be an important counterstrategy to male coercion in this system.