Inbreeding is a word that describes breeding of one individual to another that is related, and in most animals, mammals included, is relatively rare. This is likely so because breeding with relatives has deleterious effects on the survival of the offspring, and often leads to reduced fertility. In evolution, inbreeding is rapidly selected against. Not surprisingly then, animals go to great lengths to avoid breeding with animals to whom they are related. To accomplish this, animals must be able to either recognize relatives (kin recognition) or, as an alternate strategy, recognize situations that could lead to breeding with relatives.
Kin recognition has been demonstrated in numerous mammals, and is probably most developed in humans. The alternate scenario of recognizing situations that lead to breeding with relatives is thought to explain sex differences in dispersal. In mammals, dispersal from natal areas is most common in males whereas females tend to stay closer to the home range or territory of their mother. Although several explanations for dispersal have been proposed, at the top of the list is that dispersal may reduce possibility of inbreeding. This would be most common in polygamous species where males copulate with numerous females. In this scenario, many of the resident females present during the next breeding season would be related to the males, and hence, males often disperse after a successful breeding season.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.