Wildlife may prefer to mate with family members, scientists say

0

Wildlife, including primates and rodents, “ tolerate and may even prefer ” mating with their relatives, scientists say

  • A team from Stockholm University summarized 139 studies from 88 species
  • Biologists reveal that animals tolerate and may even prefer to mate with their relatives
  • They found that rodents in particular engage in what they call ‘relative preference’

Wildlife, such as primates and rodents, tolerate and may even prefer to mate with their relatives, a new study reveals.

Researchers at Stockholm University have summarized 139 experimental studies in 88 species, spanning 40 years of research.

The team wanted to find out whether strains avoid inbreeding when given choice or deliberately engaged in it – something called “ relative preference. ”

Their findings suggest that biologists should “rethink the widespread view” that species in the wild intentionally avoid mating with their relatives.

The study shows that animals rarely attempt to avoid mating with family members, a finding that was consistent across a wide range of conditions and experimental approaches.  Wolves were among the species studied, although they did not show strong kinship preference (choosing to mate with relatives) or 'avoid relatives' (choosing not to mate with relatives)

The study shows that animals rarely attempt to avoid mating with family members, a finding that was consistent across a wide range of conditions and experimental approaches. Wolves were among the species studied, although they did not show strong kinship preference (choosing to mate with relatives) or ‘avoid relatives’ (choosing not to mate with relatives)

TOP FIVE KIN PREFERRED TYPES

Of the 88 species assessed by the researchers, five showed the most kinship preference: a rodent, a primate, two fish, and a type of springtail.

– The whistling rat of the Littledale (Parotomys littledalei)

– The African cichlids (Pelvicachomis taeniatus)

– The springtail (Orchesella cincta)

– Lake trout (Salvelinus namaychu)

– The rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta)

“People assume that animals should avoid mating with a family member if given the chance,” said study author Raïssa de Boer, a researcher in zoology at Stockholm University.

But the theory of evolution has told us that for over four decades, animals have had to tolerate, or even prefer, mating with relatives under a wide variety of conditions.

“We are addressing the elephant in the room of inbreeding avoidance studies by overthrowing the widespread assumption that animals will avoid inbreeding as much as possible.”

Of the 88 species assessed by the researchers, five showed the closest kinship preference: a rodent, a primate, two fish, and a type of springtail (a hexapod that resembles a flea in appearance).

But in general, the top 10 species were dominated by rodents.

“Animals don’t seem to care if their potential mate is a brother, sister, cousin, or an unrelated person when they choose who they mate with,” said study author Regina Vega Trejo at Stockholm University.

Researchers also found ‘consistent’ evidence of publication bias in favor of studies that said animals avoid mating with family members.

The idea that animals avoid mating with relatives has been the starting point for hundreds of scientific studies conducted among many species.

But the meta-analysis revealed little support for the widespread view that animals avoid mating with relatives.

A small portion of the overall analysis also looked at avoidance of inbreeding in humans, and the team compared the results to similar experiments on animals.

They referred to studies that asked whether people avoid inbreeding when given images of faces that had been digitally manipulated to make the faces appear more or less related to the participants.

“Humans, like other animals, show no preference for unrelated potential mates when they base their decisions solely on visual cues,” said John Fitzpatrick, associate professor of zoology at Stockholm University and the study’s senior author.

“This is of course still a long way from the actual coverage.”

Of the 88 species assessed by the researchers, five showed the closest kinship preference, including the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta, photo)

Of the 88 species assessed by the researchers, five showed the closest kinship preference, including the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta, photo)

The findings will have far-reaching implications for conservation biology as mate selection is increasingly used in conservation breeding programs

“A primary goal of conservation efforts is to preserve genetic diversity, and mate selection is generally expected to achieve this goal,” said Professor Fitzpatrick.

Our findings urge caution in applying mate choice in conservation programs.

The study is published in Natural Ecology and Evolution.

Spotted zebras with golden fur are seen in Africa through inbreeding

Zebras are known for their black and white stripes, but over the years, scientists have noticed that some animals have spots, strange patterns, and even golden fur.

Such changes, usually caused by genetic mutations, are rarely seen in mammals, prompting a new investigation into the cause of the zebra’s change.

A team from the University of California, Las Angeles conducted DNA tests on 140 plain zebras – including seven with strange fur patterns – from nine national parks in Africa.

Researchers found that isolated populations produced abnormal stripping as a result of inbreeding, which is due to habitat fragmentation of people taking over the land.

A lack of genetic diversity can lead to genetic defects, disease and infertility, which could eventually lead to the extinction of common zebras.

Zebras are known for their black and white stripes, but over the years, scientists have noticed that some animals have spots, strange patterns, and even golden fur.

Zebras are known for their black and white stripes, but over the years, scientists have noticed that some animals have spots, strange patterns, and even golden fur.

Read more: Spotted zebras and gold fur are observed in Africa through inbreeding

Advertisement

.