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Nimje PS, Tinnesand HV, Buesching C, Sæbø M, Senn H, Zedrosser A, Rosell F.2019. Almost faithful: SNP markers reveal low levels of extra-pair paternity in the Eurasian beavers. PeerJ Preprints7:e27866v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.27866v1
Mating systems largely affect individual reproductive strategies which further drives evolution. Monogamy, where males and females form exclusive pairs for more than one breeding season, is particularly intriguing in this context, as there are real and potential costs of genetic monogamy to both sexes. However, molecular studies in a variety of species have revealed that social monogamy does not necessarily imply genetic monogamy due to occurrence of extra-pair copulations resulting in extra-pair offspring. Although common in birds, <10% of mammals are monogamous. Here we use single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) to investigate the genetic mating system of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber), a species traditionally considered to be not only socially but also genetically monogamous. We found evidence for low frequency of extra-pair paternity (EPP) and multiple paternity within litter. Only 5.4% young were produced by EPP and only 7% of litter contain at least one extra-pair young. Moreover, we found indications that only pairings of old individuals engaged in EPP. None of these pairs produced more than one litter as a result of EPP and none of the EPP events resulted in mate change. Our findings suggest that EPP in beavers might be the consequence of a lapse in mate guarding ability of old males.