Adult male Alpine ibex (Capra ibex ibex) have been shown to exhibit unusually high survival to relatively advanced ages (>10 years), leading to speculation that males may engage in an energetically conservative reproductive strategy that increases survival. We investigated the extent to which the adoption of alternative mating tactics contributes to the extraordinary survival of adult males in this species. Because basic information on the mating system of Alpine ibex is scarce, we 1st characterized the temporal and spatial distribution of receptive females. Our observations during 3 consecutive rutting seasons revealed 2 alternative mating tactics. Apparently dominant males monopolized individual receptive females by following and defending them, a tactic known as tending. In contrast, apparently subordinate males tried to achieve temporary access to tended females when the latter started to run, a tactic referred to as coursing. In total, 24 copulations were observed, of which 20 (83.3%) were the result of tending and 4 were the result of coursing. The adoption of the 2 tactics was strongly age-dependent; older males (9–12 years) engaged primarily in tending, whereas younger males (2–6 years) engaged mainly in coursing. Males adopting the coursing tactic spent more time in low-cost and less time in high-cost behaviors than males adopting the tending tactic. Time-budget comparisons with another ungulate species suggested that although tending is a relatively costly tactic, coursing is a low-cost tactic that may contribute to the exceptional adult survival in male Alpine ibex.
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