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In monogamous species, females often choose between males according to the quality of the territories they defend, but the extent to which females themselves contribute to territory defence is frequently underestimated. Here we test for differences in male and female roles during paired scent-marking bouts, a key component of territorial defence, in a monogamous antelope. In two populations (Kenya, Zimbabwe) of klipspringer, Oreotragus oreotragus, both males and females usually scent-marked at the same site, but there were significant differences between sexes in terms of investment within bouts. Females initiated most bouts, thus dictating the marking strategy of the pair. Males initiated relatively few bouts, but deposited more scent marks per bout than females and were usually the last to scent-mark before leaving the site; they marked on the same branches as the female and thus overmarked her scent. Both sexes deposited more marks during paired than solo visits. Immediately preceding and following scent-marking bouts, males approached females and females left males more often than expected. Female scent-marking rates were higher when they were receptive than at other times, and this increase was matched by elevated marking rates of males. Females may increase marking rates when they are receptive in order to test the quality of their mate or to incite male competition. However, these ideas are unlikely to explain female scent-marking behaviour outside the mating season, which appears to be related primarily to territorial defence. We suggest that these differences in investment in scent-marking bouts are consistent with predictions that females may be autonomously territorial and that overmarking of female scent by males is a form of mate-guarding.

Original publication




Journal article


Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

Publication Date





417 - 423