alligator Louisiana gators surprise scientists with their fidelity A 10-year study of Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge alligators has yielded some surprising results. Despite having plenty of suitable males to choose among, up to 70 percent of the female gators in this Louisiana refuge preferred to mate with the same male year after another. Also, females who mated with more than one male per breeding season and produced young from multiple fathers usually continued to mate with their select group of males year after year, thus displaying a form of polygamous fidelity.

Given how incredibly open and dense the alligator population is at RWR, we didn’t expect to find fidelity,” biologist Stacey Lance of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in South Carolina said in a press release. “To actually find that 70 percent of our re-trapped females showed mate fidelity was really incredible. I don’t think any of us expected that the same pair of alligators that bred together in 1997 would still be breeding together in 2005 and may still be producing nests together to this day.”

Most reptiles are polygamous and will choose a new mate or mates each breeding season, and only a few reptilian species are known to actively choose the same mate or mates over and over again.

Since the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge is so densely populated with alligators, researchers don’t think that the repeated pairings are the result of chance.

The study has been published in the journal Molecular Ecology.