DNA fingerprinting evidence of nonfilial nursing in grey seals
Perry, E.A.; Boness, D.J.; Fleischer, R.C.
Molecular Ecology 7(1): 81-85
ISSN/ISBN: 0962-1083 PMID: 9465418 DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-294x.1998.00313.x
We tested the hypothesis that kin selection may play a role in fostering behaviour in grey seals. Fostering frequency varied among three colonies, ranging from 3% to 28%. Band-sharing coefficients (S) of DNA fingerprints, from two multilocus probes, were used to predict relatedness (r). Mean r did not differ between foster mother-pup pairs and the expected r = 0 for presumed unrelated female-pup pairs. Likewise, mean r between fostered and filial pups compared to r between presumed unrelated pups within the same beaches did not differ. Mean S values of presumed unrelated pups on different beaches within the two smallest colonies were indistinguishable, indicating that there is not increased variation in relatedness in small colonies. These results suggest that kin selection does not play a significant role in the maintenance of grey seal fostering behaviour.