Marie Sophie Roy
Department of Biology
Concordia University (Loyola Campus)
7141 Sherbrooke St. W. H4B 1R6
Montreal, QC, Canada
(514) 848-2424 (ext. 4021)
2023 – Present: MSc in Biology, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
2022: Undergraduate Microprogram in Introduction to Environmental Research, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Amos, Canada
2020 – 2023: BSc in Biology, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski, Canada
Influence of female reproductive status (fertilized vs non-fertilized) on mating behaviours of reindeers (Rangifer tarandus)
Sexual selection can lead to the divergence of traits between males and females, known as sexual dimorphism, and can play a significant role in shaping the mating success of many species. It relies on two mechanisms: intrasexual selection, the competition among individuals of the same sex for mates, and intersexual selection, the selection of mates by one sex. These mechanisms ultimately influence an individual’s reproductive fitness, driving the development of mating strategies towards optimizing reproductive success. Reindeers (Rangifer tarandus) exhibit a polygynous mating system characterized by male competition to monopolize the access to receptive females. During the short and highly synchronous rutting period, dominant males form harems comprising of multiple females and a few subordinate males. Dominant males display various mating behaviours, the most noticeable ones comprising fighting, courting, herding, and grunting. Female mating behaviours are less apparent and have been relatively understudied as female mate choice is difficult to disentangle from male coercion and harassment. By conducting an experiment involving the mix of fertilized and non-fertilized females, we aim to explore how their reproductive status may affect mating behaviour of males as well as females.
The study took place at Kutuharju Reindeer Research Station in Kaamanen, Finland (69°N, 27°E) and was conducted on a semi-domestic reindeer population. The herd, which has been the subject of an ongoing long-term study since 1996, is free ranging for most of the year, except during the calving and rutting periods. The Finnish Reindeer Herders Association, responsible for the management and harvesting of these animals, furnishes information about the ecology and behaviour of individual reindeers.
The aim of this study is to investigate the influence of female reindeer’s reproductive status on:
- Male mating behaviour (agonistic and courting behaviours)
- Female behaviour
- Mating group composition