A Review of Recent Developments in the Study of Mating System and Parental Care

7777777Recent Developments in the Study of Mating System and Parental Care:

Mating system and parental care in animals, is a complicated issue that is still under analysis depending on the primitivity and evolution in animal kingdom. Mating system can be defined as the ways in which animals of different kind are associated during copulation and the factors that contribute to identification of partners, interaction and eventually fertilization.

Parental care is the attention that is taken by the parents toward rearing and protecting their offspring until they attain the age of being self reliable and independent. Some animals will extend parental care even if their progenies are able to sustain themselves. These will include man and other primates. Caring of offspring requires time and energy.

Mating systems in animals inculcate different behavioral methods which depend on their natural instincts that include seeing the female genital parts, sniffing and seeing female

genital part and urine.

This is exhibited by almost all animals regardless of the kingdom for example buffaloes would lick the genital parts of the female and would smell the urine of the female frequently to detect when she is on heat, it is known that herbivores are poor in sniffing. It is the functions of male bull to detect when the female is on heat. But another issue is raised whereby the male can attract the female that is on heat by vocalization of sound and bellowing.

This is a competitive feature in hoofed animals where the vocalization sound of bulls determines and reflects on the strongest male and robust enough to mate and sire strong calves. Beside vocalization and production of sound, many animals would extend their necks and curl upper lip. This is exhibited by male animals when they feel that they would like to mate and no female is ready. This is eventually done to attract any female that is willing to be mated or if any that is on heat.

A Review of Recent Developments in the Study of Mating System and Parental Care

Sometimes tactile stimuli are noticed in males as licking and biting of the female takes place. Bulls get the sexual desire quickly as soon as the female is on heat and arousal follows no sooner. With time the mating bull would become sexually exhausted as mating continues. When mating the bull don’t concentrate on grazing and this is a factor that makes man to encourage domesticated animals to be isolated, and mating would be allowed at night or early in the morning before grazing resumes.

Erection in bulls of cattle, buffaloes, wild beast, waterbucks, giraffes, rams and he goat is fast and ejaculation is fast on mounting. But elephant bulls, rhinoceros, donkey, camels, zebras, and others have difficulty in mating due to the size of body mass and weight as well as the size of the male genital organ, height of female and calmness of female when mating.

From the observation of a video on mating of animals, mating in elephants take long since the male bull would take time to locate and insert the penis. Then it has to remain mounted till it ejaculates. The same case applies to rhinoceros. In donkey, mating is tedious due to aggressiveness of male and the female don’t accept to stand still for the mating to occur. Biting of male to female’s neck and strong fight between them eventually makes the female to oblige. There is a problem when the male donkey tries to insert or to penetrate the female due to the size of the male’s penis and the failure of it being stiff even on full erection.

When it comes to camels, mating would take time since the female must lie normally as if it is resting. It remains the work of the male camel to locate the vulva and penetrate while she is lying. This gives the male hand time to mate. Sometimes a human assistance is required to facilitate successive mating in camels since the male is long too to squat or to bend properly. The man would assist in holding the bull’s penis and insert it in female’s vulva and bull would start mating and hence ejaculate after a while. Camels’ males have low libido as compared to other domesticated animals apart from horses. Horses would require sexual activation by man since mating occurs after a long period of time since females don’t become on heat quickly.

Some animals would mate due to sexual interaction, sense of touch, seeing partners and getting attracted to them and lastly addiction. This is usually done by primates where the female genitals organ would swell to attract the male. The genital parts of primates e.g. baboon would change color and vulva would swell to attract the male. Males chimpanzee mate frequently almost like human being. It happens that after getting relaxed a certain group of these creatures would just start mating. They are really addicted to sex. Other males are isolated from females and would go to females when they would mate. Certain sounds would be produced by females on heat to attract the male and this happens to females that do not produce pheromone hormone. Or the male produces certain sound to attract the female on heat.

Mating systems in animals differ according to the natural complexity, height, weight and size of the specific animal.

A Review of Recent Developments in the Study of Mating System and Parental Care

One method of mating system is whereby a male has an exclusive relationship with two or more females. This is mostly exhibited by a number of primates where the king of the jungle would mate several females, each at time when they are on estrus. The male baboon that is strong enough and can fight all other males in that group is always the king who usually would mate the females on heat during his rein and would bring forth a number of generations before it become sexually exhausted and weak to mate any more. This is a specific system in polygamous animals that is polygynic. Polygyny is the most mating system in animals that is so far well analyzed and proved and tested. It usually occurs in a number of animals for example in lions, baboon etc.

Another mating system in animal kingdom involves polyandry where one female has a relationship with two or more males. This is exhibited by wild dogs and hyenas. According to the journal by S.K. Pal (2005) “free ranging dogs” In the journal of applied animal behavior Science

Volume 90, Issue 1, January 2005, Pages 31-47

In this journal, parental care in free-ranging dogs was investigated in Katwa town, India. Out of six lactating bitches, 4 were monogamous. The gestation period varied from 62 to 65 days. In this study, the favor of male was recorded. It was found that high mortality (63%) of pups occurred by the age of 3 months and their mothers were in contact with the litters for 13 weeks of the litters’ life. It was observed that there was a negative correlation between the duration of mother–litter contact in any observation session and the age of the pups. Feeding of the young ones by the mothers by suckling was continued for 10–11 weeks of the litters’ life. The duration of milk feeding in any 30-min observation session reached a maximum of 27.54 min during the 1st week and a minimum of 2.22 min during the 11th week of the litters’ life. It was found that all the mothers in this study were observed to feed the pups by regurgitation. For the first 2 weeks immediately after parturition, the lactating females were observed to be more aggressive to protect the pups. The four males that were kept in touch with the puppies were in contact with the litters as their protector dogs for the first 6–8 weeks of litters’ life. In absence of the mothers, they were observed to prevent the approach of strangers by bowing and vocalizations or even by physical attacks which included chasing the strangers. Moreover, from the abstract, one male was found feeding the litter by regurgitation. This was unbelievable, showing the existence of paternal care in free-roaming domestic dogs.

Sometimes it is very hard to identify and to distinguish mating systems in world animals like elephants. But continuous study indicates that a polygynandry system of mating is exhibited where two or more males have almost exclusive relationship with two or more females. The mating elephants tend to start dating before mating. In the process when the female become on heat the male is likely to mate her and not any other male. Elephants tend to show age mate when mating. A young male bull cannot mate an old elephant female. The numbers of males and females in this system of mating is not necessarily equal, and in vertebrate species studied so far, the number of males is usually less.

A Review of Recent Developments in the Study of Mating System and Parental Care

In parental care elephants would ensure enough security that requires cooperation of all elephants in that social colony. Elephants would surround the female on birth and would not move until when the calf is able to do the walking. The mother would protect the calf from predators such as lions and tigers. Most animals reveal a promiscuous behavior where any male within the social group mates with any female. This is exhibited by herbivores, but a slight fight would erupt between competing males and mating would proceed but stronger males would have an upper hand.

Recent developments in courtship indicate that mating in animals depends on the seasons of mating that are influenced by many factors. These factors include genetic make up of animals, environment and availability of partners. Many animals depend on sensing ability of the male and from how far it can sense the pheromone hormone that is produced by females. Some animals like dogs can sense from far when the bitch is on heat. Mating actually involves many

males but the strongest would be able to mate after a fight in polygynandly           relationship.

Dogs are good in sniffing.

Some omnivorous such as zebras would mate when the female is on heat. Mating causes a fight between mating males. The strongest male who fights the others would mate successfully after overcoming the female by biting her at the back of the neck. There also erupts a fight between the male and female on heat. After the birth, the male confirms that the offspring born is his. If the offspring is not his, the ass ensures that the offspring born does not survive by killing the newborn if it senses that it is not his. There erupts a fight between female zebra and the male as the female tries to protect the newborn. Most of these animals don’t engage in rearing the young ones after weaning unlike their counterparts in cat family who hunt for young ones. Mating systems differ greatly between domesticated, wild animals, man and invertebrates.

Mating in animals occur through out their life but with a certain direct control mechanism caused by either male or female and nature. Cat family animals have mating behavior that involves use of males to seduce females. Fighting in male cheetahs for example makes the female to become on heat after some time. After conceiving and giving birth, the female usually takes care of the young ones by suckling, hunting for preys and protection Protections involves hiding cubs in a safe place from enemies. The female will carry disabled cubs to a safer place by holding it at the back of neck using its mouth; most animals of cat family will do this to their offspring.

Parental care in cat family will also include killing of other competitors e.g. lion would try as much to kill young ones of other cats and even hyenas cubs to reduce competion since all are carnivorous and compete for herbivores together. All carnivores depend on meat from herbivores. Males in this family will only protect the pride when there is extreme enemy or danger. The female is always active but the male is not. A great discrimination and selectivity is exhibited by females during copulation. Many females in cat family would allow strong and robust males to mate them but the weak males are sidelined. This enhances continuation of genetically strong generation. In this factor, the survival of the fittest is established. A lion sometimes would seduce the lioness if he realizes that she has stayed for long without showing symptoms of heat after last birth, this happens to many animals of cat family.

A Review of Recent Developments in the Study of Mating System and Parental Care

Leopards which are not swift like cheetahs would protect the young ones by hiding them in cafes. When they grow up she trains the cubs to climb trees. When she hunts she would let the cubs to eat the fresh and she usually hides the remains on top of trees where no other fresh eating animal can get unless vultures. The leopard would mostly hide the meat from the predators like hyenas. Leopards are lucky that they hide on trees where most enemies cannot climb the trees. Most cat family animals are very jealous such that when they have poor mothering ability, they tend to destroy other animals family. For example a leopard would eat their counterparts young ones or when her young one dies she just consume it. This is a queer behavior that is associated with almost all carnivorous.

Copulation among wild animals usually mostly occurs when animals are safe from enemies, when environment is conducive and when females are on heat, unlike man. Mating in herbivores is highly determined by estrus cycle in females. The presence of pheromone hormone in the female’s urine would make the male to be sexually active and to start mating. Usually detection of this hormone occurs during normal gracing periods whereby the males would accidentally sense the hormone or when licking the genitals of female.

Mating in gazelles usually occurs during the day when their predators cannot attack them and involves strong males that fight other males during copulation. The stronger male would succeed to the female. Jealousy is highly exhibited by strongest male whereby he cannot allow other males to mate the female on heat. After birth the mother would protect the lamb against some hawks that attack small life lambs, vultures, cheetahs, hyena, leopards and other possible predators. It is possible that some animals would come on heat after mating, especially when mating was not intended e.g. hares would mate and the sperms would induce the female to be ready to conceive not necessarily when mating.

This happens because female hares have got that capability of storing sperms for a while after mating. Hot weather does not favor mating of animals since most are exhausted. Animals like giraffe would kick its calf after birth to alert it on danger ahead. Parental care would involve protecting the calf against lion and hyena and other possible predators.

When it comes to human, sexual behavior is unusually flexible and it is not influenced by hormonal changes in females since their estrus cycle is usually hidden. In most animal species, one mating system dominates according to the estrus cycle. There is close analogy between animal mating systems and human marriage behaviors that is exhibited by birds. This is so because in human societies, marriages typically have to be recognized by the entire society in some way, and there is no equivalent process in animal societies. The temptation to draw conclusions about what is normal for human sexual behavior from observations of animal mating systems should be resisted: a zoologist observing the kinds of behaviors shown by humans in any other species would conclude that all known mating systems were natural for that species, depending on the prevailing circumstances or on individual animal differences.

In amphibians, mating highly occur when there is plenty of water i.e. during rainy season. Males’ frog would fawn to attract females and communication is done through hearing of specific sounds.

A Review of Recent Developments in the Study of Mating System and Parental Care

Animals would continue giving birth until they become sexually inactive. The number of offspring brought forward depends on the types of animals, gestation period, easiness in mating, weather condition i.e. too hot weather does not favor mating seasons, lastly availability food, water and of course mating partners would greatly affect the reproduction among animals.

All the above is controlled by nature and competition among predators and preys. Less advantaged animals, mostly herbivores have short gestation period that can enhance them to give birth frequently, in order to replace those young ones that don’t survive due to hunger, predation by enemies or due to disease and other natural calamities. Gestation periods for elephants take long due to genetically make up and that chance of survival for the calves are high since elephants don’t have many enemies.


In conclusion, mating systems and parental care are adaptations to wild life. Mating systems in animals differ greatly and this difference is brought by the body structures and conformation of these animals plus the body mass, weight, height of specific animals, flexibility which is determined by weight and body mass, genetically makeup, environments and the fitness of the animal.

Animals with high chances of survival have long gestation periods since their young ones can survive. Those animals that have many enemies have short gestation period such that they can give birth to many young ones so that even if others don’t survive some would to facilitate survival of the species.

It is apparent that herbivores are born and after some time they can run very fast to escape any predator around. This is because herbivores have many enemies which include almost all carnivores and some omnivorous. Parental care and mating systems go hand in hand. According to the journal by Daniel P. Mitchell,(2007)”Attractive male dogs and parental care” In the journal of animal behavior, volume73, issue 1, pages 165 to 170 )The information extracted from the sciencedirect base, concerning attractive male dogs and parental care, it is well indicated that attractive, huge and robust males may be signals of direct or indirect benefits to females that mate with those males. Apparently there is one important direct benefit to females and this is the level of male parental assistance they receive when provisioning young. Three main hypotheses stated attempted to explain the relationship between attractive male size and parental care. The good parent hypothesis predicted that males with larger prevalence would provide more care, while the differential allocation and trade-off hypotheses predicted that they would provide less care. In every hypothesis there must be type one error and type two error if good analysis is not done. There was examination of the relationship between male

A Review of Recent Developments in the Study of Mating System and Parental Care

attractiveness and parental care in two populations of common yellowthroats, Geothlypis trichas, in which the sexually selected male attractiveness differed. It was found that more attractive males provided less parental care in both populations, contrary to the good parent hypothesis. However, females did not feed their nestlings more frequently when mated with more ornamented males; this is an additional prediction of the differential allocation hypothesis. The results were based on the consistency with the trade-off hypothesis, which suggested that more attractive males provide less care because they spent relatively more of their effort in pursuing new mates or defending their territories from other males


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