ISU researchers say female moose are total jerks, basically

3 Aug

A female moose at Lulu Pass in Montana. Photo by zgrial via Flickr.

New research from ISU professor Terry Bowyer and his colleagues shows that female moose trigger fights with their “protest moans” to potentially ditch their mate for a better one. After studying different groups of moose, the researchers found that there were a lot more male moose fights when females protest moaned (I don’t care to know what that sounds like).

According to an ISU press release, moose live in harems, like some kind of stereotypical Arabian king with a bunch of concubines:

“Female moose are courted continuously by all size of bulls in Alaska, and a master bull tries to keep other male moose out of his harem,” Bowyer said…

The females moan a lot more if a small bull comes in and it attracts the dominant bull to chase the smaller bulls off, reducing the harassment from young males,” Bowyer said.

However, female protest moans can also attract large dominate bulls from outside the harem to “foment big fights over the control of the harem,” which also increases the choice of mates by female moose.

So sometimes female moose will warn their mate when some small, lame male moose comes on to her, but she’ll also instigate a fight when a larger, possibly more attractive male comes up, just so she can maybe have him in the end? Jerks. Who knew moose were just like the cast of Jersey Shore. Zing! (I’ve never actually seen the show.)

[photo by zgrial]

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