Infographic: A new look at monogamy across the animal kingdom | Abstract TS

illustration by © michelle kondrich

SOCIAL MONOGAMY: When individuals form social bonds and engage in behaviors such as pair parenting, but do not necessarily mate exclusively

EXTRA-PAIR PATERNITY: When a male begets offspring outside of his social pair

GENETIC MONOGAMY: If a related couple has only one offspring together, i.e. there is no extra-couple paternity

Infographic showing some examples of species that form pairs that are socially and/or genetically monogamous

© michelle kondrich

cartilaginous fish
Although little is known about mating systems in sharks and other cartilaginous fishes, there is evidence that some species such as tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) may be genetically monogamous.

bony fish
Most species of fish live in close quarters, but some, such as seahorses (genus Seahorselisten), are genetically and socially monogamous, with pairs mating and sharing parental care for most or all of their lives.

Monogamy was thought to be absent from the amphibian clade, but in 2010 researchers published evidence of social and genetic monogamy in a Peruvian poison frog (Ranitomeya Impersonator).

Few reptiles are monogamous, but one exception is the Australian pebble lizard (Tiliqua rugosa), which forms social relationships for 20 years or more, although about one-fifth of individuals also have extra-pair relationships.

Social monogamy is found in about 80–90% of bird species, although extra pair mating is common. Albatross (family Diomedeidae) form strong social bonds that can last for decades.

Less than 1 in 10 mammal species practice some kind of monogamy. The socially monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster), which forms close bonds and even exhibits anxious behaviors when separated from a mate, has become a well-studied model organism in monogamy research, although they often mate with individuals other than their partner.

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