It is now widely recognized that mating systems contain both social and genetic components, where social
components describe patterns of social associations while genetic components reflect patterns of mating
activities. In many species these two components do not coincide. If the level of sexual asymmetry differs
between these two components, for instance in monogamous pairs with high levels of infidelity, each
component may impose different selection pressures on behavioural and physiological characteristics.
However, we have limited knowledge of how social and genetic components influence behaviour and
physiology. The aardwolf (Proteles cristata) is a small insectivorous hyaenid, which has been described as
socially monogamous but sexually promiscuous. In this study, we evaluated if aardwolf space use, scent
marking, foraging behaviour and endocrine fluctuations relate to predictions from social monogamy or
polygamous mating. Our results did not show sex differences in behaviour or physiology that would be
consistent with predictions from polygamous mating, and we suggest that social mate associations may
regulate the observed endocrine and behavioural parameters more than actual mating patterns in this
species. Such an interpretation would suggest that the fitness effect of promiscuous mating may be low,
since it appears to impose little selection pressure on mating related behaviour. We stress that it is then
unclear how promiscuous mating is maintained in this socially monogamous species.