Behavioural and trapping studies of the social organization of coypus have suggested the occurrence of kin groups and a polygynous mating system. We used 16 microsatellite markers to analyse parentage and relatedness relationships in two populations (J??uregui and Villa Ruiz) in the Argentinean Pampas. At J??uregui, a dominant male monopolized most paternities, leading to a high variance in reproductive success between males and a high level of polygyny. At Villa Ruiz, variance in reproductive success was low among resident males and males were the fathers of zero to four offspring each. For females, no significant differences were found. Two different social groups in each study site were used to assess genetic relatedness within and between groups. These groups were neighbouring at J??uregui but not at Villa Ruiz. At Villa Ruiz, coypus were significantly more related within than between groups, suggesting that behavioural groups were also genetic ones, and adult females were more related within than between groups, as should be expected for kin groups. This relationship was not found at J??uregui. Our results provide support to previous studies based on behavioural and trapping data, which indicate that coypus form social groups and have a polygynous mating system. However, we found differences in social organization between the two populations. This is the first study to determine parentage and/or relatedness in coypus. ?? 2008 The Authors.
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Relatedness and social organization of coypus in the Argentinean pampas