Sex on the beach: pressures of extreme polygamy may be driving southern elephant seals to early death

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Study finds males, who can command a harem of up to 100 females, driven to gain weight as quickly as possible by foraging in areas full of predators

Extreme polygamy may be driving male southern elephant seals to early deaths, new research suggests.

A study of 14,000 southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) at Macquarie Island in the south-western Pacific, has found that while survival rates for males and females are roughly comparable for juveniles, male survival rapidly decreased after eight years of age, dropping to around a 50% survival rate, while female survival remained constant at 80%.

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