Longevity, Competition, and Musth: A Long-term Perspective on Male Reproductive Strategies

Joyce H. Poole, Phyllis C. Lee, Norah Njiraini and Cynthia J. Moss

in The Amboseli Elephants

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780226542232
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226542263 | DOI:
Longevity, Competition, and Musth: A Long-term Perspective on Male Reproductive Strategies

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Musth males tend to interact aggressively whenever they meet. Between musth males, dominance is also size related, and thus escalated contests occur between musth males who are closely matched in both size and condition. Serious fights also take place when the normal rules that predict status are perturbed due to loss of condition. Since the musth periods of males are asynchronous, a large male in poor condition toward the end of his musth period may meet a smaller male in peak condition at the beginning of his period, and the smaller male may then challenge the larger male. The presence of an estrous female is not a prerequisite for a fight, nor are outcomes predictable. This chapter aims to relate individual patterns of musth to opportunities for mating and the factors that constrain those opportunities. Specifically, it intends to assess the effects of longevity on male reproductive potential, examine musth timing and how it relates to female availability and male age, and explore how competition with other males influences probabilities of access to estrous females for males at different ages.

Keywords: musth males; male reproduction; estrous female; mating; reproductive potential; fights

Chapter.  8155 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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