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Molecular tools have enabled wildlife researchers to obtain accurate information on the kinship, mating behavior, and dispersal of individuals. We genotyped 192 Ethiopian wolves (n = 29 packs) in the Bale Mountains for 17 microsatellite loci to 1) elucidate kinship within and between packs, 2) assess parentage of pups, and 3) evaluate whether inbreeding is avoided by dispersal and/or mating behavior. Mean pairwise relatedness within packs (R = 0.39) was significantly greater than that estimated from random assignment of individuals to packs. However, breeding pairs were most often unrelated, suggesting that female-biased dispersal reduces inbreeding. We assigned maternity to 49 pups and paternity to 47 pups (n = 12 litters) using a combination of exclusion, likelihood analyses (using CERVUS software), and sibship reconstruction. Multiple paternity occurred in 33% of litters; extrapack paternity accounted for 28% of all resolved paternities, occurring in 50% of litters. We found no evidence that extrapack copulations reduce inbreeding; however, more detailed analyses may elucidate the effect of recent population declines and demographic disturbances due to recurring disease outbreaks. The adaptive advantages of female-biased dispersal and the observed mating system are discussed in relation to Ethiopian wolf sociobiology and ecology. © The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Society for Behavioral Ecology. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Behavioral Ecology

Publication Date





579 - 589