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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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 - Mar 1996



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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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