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Data from: MHC-associated mate choice under competitive conditions in captive versus wild Tasmanian devils

Citation

Day, Jenna et al. (2019), Data from: MHC-associated mate choice under competitive conditions in captive versus wild Tasmanian devils, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.285s287

Abstract

Mate choice contributes to driving evolutionary processes when animals choose breeding partners that confer genetic advantages to offspring, such as increased immunocompetence. The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is an important group of immunological molecules, as MHC antigens bind and present foreign peptides to T-cells. Recent studies suggest that mates may be selected based on their MHC profile, leading to an association between an individual’s MHC diversity and their breeding success. In conservation, it may be important to consider mate choice in captive breeding programs, as this mechanism may improve reproductive rates. We investigated the reproductive success of Tasmanian devils in a group housing facility to determine whether increased MHC-based heterozygosity led individuals to secure more mating partners and produce more offspring. We also compared the breeding success of captive females to a wild devil population. MHC diversity was quantified using 12 MHC-linked microsatellite markers, including 11 previously characterised markers and one newly identified marker. Our analyses revealed that there was no relationship between MHC-linked heterozygosity and reproductive success either in captivity or the wild. The results of this study suggest that, for Tasmanian devils, MHC-based heterozygosity does not produce greater breeding success, and that no specific changes to current captive management strategies are required with respect to preserving MHC diversity.

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