Living on Earth's Alexandra Gutierrez reports that female topi antelopes defy typical animal behavior patterns and aggressively pursue their male mates.
GELLERMAN: Coming up, lovebirds, an unusual pairing. But first, love role reversal in this Note on Emerging Science from Alexandra Gutierrez.
GUTIERREZ: Female topi antelope don't like playing hard to get. They're not into prolonged courtship rituals, and they don't really like monogamy, either. In the battle of the sexes, these antelope essentially reverse the rules of engagement.
The standard assumption in sexual selection theory is that a male will aggressively pursue a female. But Finnish scientists observed that Topi behavior goes counter to that assumption. Researchers have noticed that female topis persistently – and sometimes violently – attempt to attract the best mate.
Because these females are only fertile for one day, they do not have the luxury of waiting for the best male to choose them, say the scientists. They must instead compete for the attention of the strongest males in order to improve their chances of getting pregnant. The fact that the males' sperm supply is limited further puts pressure on the females to find one good partner, or sometimes even a few.
While it could be argued that the topi males are in an enviable position, being such an object of desire can be tiring and even dangerous. Males will sometimes collapse from exhaustion as a result of this attention, and they must occasionally fight off females who can be a bit too domineering. So it seems that in the Topi world, love can hurt.
That's this week's note on Emerging Science. I'm Alexandra Gutierrez.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Newsletter [Click here]
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth