Review examines sexual aggression in mammals


A recent review of published studies in non-human mammals examines “sexual disturbance,” or male behavior towards a female around mating that can be costly for the female–for example, that might inflict physical harm or cause mother-offspring separation. The findings are published in Mammal Review.

The author, Marcelo H. Cassini, PhD, of the Laboratorio de Biología del Comportamiento, in Argentina, found that sexual disturbance was frequent in 4 of the 32 mammalian orders examined: Primates, Artiodactyla, Carnivora, and Cetacea, which all include species with polygyny (in which a male mates with multiple females). The most common response of females to sexual disturbance was grouping around a dominant male.

The most common expression of sexual conflict around copulation was seen in behaviors associated with female retention attempts that cause minor harm. Research suggests that the most common response of females to sexual disturbance comprises female grouping around a dominant male.

Additional research is needed to see whether sexual disturbance affects the reproductive success of males and females.

“This review suggests that sexual aggression is a rare behavior among the thousands of species of mammals,” Dr. Cassini said.


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