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Correlates of reproductive success in a population of nine-banded armadillos

  • Author(s): Loughry, WJ
  • Prodöhl, Paulo A
  • McDonough, Colleen M
  • Nelson, WS
  • Avise, John C
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

We used microsatellite DNA markers to identify the putative parents of 69 litters of nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) over 4 years. Male and female parents did not differ in any measure of body size in comparisons with nonparents. However, males observed paired with a female were significantly larger than unpaired males, although paired females were the same size as unpaired females. Females categorized as possibly lactating were significantly larger than females that were either definitely lactating or definitely not lactating. There was no evidence of assortative mating: body-size measurements of mothers were not significantly correlated with those of fathers. Nine-banded armadillos give birth to litters of genetically identical quadruplets. Mothers (but not fathers) of female litters were significantly larger than mothers of male litters, and maternal (but not paternal) body size was positively correlated with the number of surviving young within years, but not cumulatively. There were no differences in dates of birth between male and female litters, nor were there any significant relationships between birth date and maternal body size. Body size of either parent was not correlated with the body sizes of their offspring. Cumulative and yearly reproductive success did not differ between reproductively successful males and females. Average reproductive success (which included apparently unsuccessful individuals) also did not differ between males and females. The majority of adults in the population apparently failed to produce any surviving offspring, and even those that did usually did so in only 1 of the 4 years. This low reproductive success is unexpected, given the rapid and successful range extension of this species throughout the southeastern United States in this century.

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