Behavioral tactics, dominance, and copulatory success among male fox squirrels

John L. Koprowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The behavioral tactics and mating behavior of male fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) were studied in a small population of uniquely marked, free-ranging individuals during the winter breeding season in 1986 to 1990. Twelve mating bouts were observed with an average of 5.83 males. Two alternative male reproductive tactics were active pursuit and satellite. Active-pursuit males were the most dominant squirrels that fought for and defended proximity to the estrous female. Satellite males were subordinates that remained dispersed in the estrous female’s home range but avoided interaction with active-pursuit males. Active pursuit accounted for more copulations than the satellite tactic (0.83 vs 0.23 copulations/male/bout) with the copulations distributed more evenly among active-pursuit males (CV = 133.7) than among satellite males (CV = 191.3). Satellite males copulated with a female after she avoided the contest competition among active-pursuit males. Although the tactics were dominance-based, dominance rank was not directly correlated with mating success. However, high-ranking, dominant males gained access to and mounted more females than lower ranking males. The alternative mating tactics of male fox squirrels may be important in mediating intermale mating success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages8
JournalEthology Ecology and Evolution
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1993


  • Alternative mating tactics
  • Copulatory success
  • Dominance rank
  • Mating behavior
  • Sciuridae
  • Sciurus niger

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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