From the archive, originally posted by: [ mmm ]
Climate change enhances gray seals’ sex lives / Dec 14, 2006
LONDON (Reuters) – Climate change could be disastrous for some animals, but male gray seals are probably not complaining — it has improved their sex lives. Weaker males would not normally have a chance with the females, who usually go for the more dominant types. But lower rainfall levels have forced female seals on the remote Scottish island of North Rona to travel further from their partners to find fresh water, giving the weaker males more opportunity to mate with them.
“The increased movement amongst the females allows the weaker males to mate,” said Dr. Sean Twiss of the University of Durham in England.
Dominant males typically mate with 10-15 females, which they guard on their territory, according to a study published in the Royal Society’s journal Biology Letters. “These males’ ability to dominate is easy when rainwater pools are abundant and females cluster in a small geographical area, but during the dry season the area in which the females are located becomes too big and they can no longer successfully keep an eye on them all,” Twiss said in a statement.
During a 9-year study of the seals on North Rona, Twiss and scientists from the University of St Andrews in Scotland recorded a 61 percent increase in the number of males contributing to the genetic pool. “These findings show that climate change, whilst endangering many species, could also help to increase the genetic diversity of some species,” Twiss said.