Steneck, Seward sources for Press Herald wildlife love story

University of Maine scientists Bob Steneck and Lindsay Seward dispelled some myths about monogamy in the natural world in the Portland Press Herald’s wildlife Valentine’s Day story. Steneck, a professor of oceanography, said male lobsters may mate with as many as 10 females in a season. Although up to 90% of the world’s nearly 10,000 bird species — including bald eagles, loons and osprey — appear to mate for life, they actually form a “pair bond,” to work as a team to raise a family for a period of time. “It’s not very romantic. The name of the game is to spread the genes,” said Seward, an instructor in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology. “And when you’re spreading genes, variety is good. So females do extra-pair coupling. In human terms, that would be called cheating.” Then again, in a literal sense, Seward said it could be argued the praying mantis mates for life. “The female attracts the male, and then after they mate, she eats him.”