Understanding the costs and benefits of defending solitary females, or mate guarding, may be the key to understanding the evolution of monogamy in most mammals. Elephant-shrews, or sengis, are a unique clade of small mammals that are particularly attractive for studies of mate guarding. We studied the spatial organization of Eastern Rock Sengis (Elephantulus myurus) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, from August – December 2000. Our objectives were to describe the home ranges of males and females using radiotelemetry, noting the sizes and overlap of adjacent ranges and how the spatial organization changes through time. Males and females were spatially associated in monogamous pairs despite the fact that males contributed no obvious direct care to offspring. These monogamous associations persisted despite the fact that some males had home ranges large enough to encompass multiple females. Males also had more variable ranges, perhaps because they spent more time at the periphery of their ranges exploring for the presence of additional females. There was likely competition for females, as range shifts were observed when male territory holders died or disappeared. It seems likely that this species is a model study organism to investigate the costs and benefits of mate guarding.
Ribble, D.O., and M.R. Perrin. 2005. Social organization of the Eastern Rock Elephant-shrew (Elephantulus myurus): The evidence for mate guarding. Belgian Journal of Zoology 135(supplement):167-173.
Belgian Journal of Zoology