Sexual selection, temperature, and the lion's mane

Peyton M. West, Craig Packer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

225 Scopus citations


The mane of the African lion (Pantheraleo) is a highly variable trait that reflects male condition and ambient temperature. We examined the consequences of this variation in a long-term study of lions in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. Mane darkness indicates nutrition and testosterone and influences both female choice and male-male competition. Mane length signals fighting success and only appears to influence male-male assessment. Dark-maned males enjoy longer reproductive life-spans and higher offspring survival, but they suffer higher surface temperatures, abnormal sperm, and lower food intake during hot months of the year. Maned males are hotter than females, and males have lighter and/or shorter manes in hotter seasons, years, and habitats. This phenotypic plasticity suggests that the mane will respond to forecasted increases in ambient temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1339-1343
Number of pages5
Issue number5585
StatePublished - Aug 23 2002


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