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Communal nursing in wild house mice is not a by-product of group living: Females choose


Weidt, Andrea; Lindholm, Anna K; König, Barbara (2014). Communal nursing in wild house mice is not a by-product of group living: Females choose. Die Naturwissenschaften, 101(1):73-76.

Abstract

Communal nursing, the provision of milk to non-offspring, has been argued to be a non-adaptive by-product of group living. We used 2 years of field data from a wild house mouse population to investigate this question. Communal nursing never occurred among females that previously lacked overlap in nest box use. Females nursed communally in only 33 % of cases in which there was a communal nursing partner available from the same social group. Solitarily nursing females were not socially isolated in their group; nevertheless, high spatial associations prior to reproduction predict which potential female partner was chosen for communal nursing. An increase in partner availability increased the probability of communal nursing, but population density itself had a negative effect, which may reflect increased female reproductive competition during summer. These results argue that females are selective in their choice of nursing partners and provide further support that communal nursing with the right partner is adaptive.

Communal nursing, the provision of milk to non-offspring, has been argued to be a non-adaptive by-product of group living. We used 2 years of field data from a wild house mouse population to investigate this question. Communal nursing never occurred among females that previously lacked overlap in nest box use. Females nursed communally in only 33 % of cases in which there was a communal nursing partner available from the same social group. Solitarily nursing females were not socially isolated in their group; nevertheless, high spatial associations prior to reproduction predict which potential female partner was chosen for communal nursing. An increase in partner availability increased the probability of communal nursing, but population density itself had a negative effect, which may reflect increased female reproductive competition during summer. These results argue that females are selective in their choice of nursing partners and provide further support that communal nursing with the right partner is adaptive.

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12 citations in Web of Science®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:January 2014
Deposited On:11 Mar 2014 16:57
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:31
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0028-1042
Funders:University of Zurich
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00114-013-1130-6
Official URL:http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00114-013-1130-6
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-90564

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