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Absence of reproductive suppression in young adult female striped mice living in their natal family


Schradin, Carsten; Pillay, Neville (2014). Absence of reproductive suppression in young adult female striped mice living in their natal family. Animal Behaviour, 90:141-148.

Abstract

Alternative reproductive tactics of males have been studied in many species, but few studies have focused on females. In many communally breeding mammals, females can be adult non-breeding helpers, leave the group and breed solitarily, or they could be a breeder in their natal group, representing three alternative reproductive tactics. The reasons for delayed breeding are not well understood, but in many sociable species both male and female helpers are reproductively suppressed. Male helpers of communally breeding striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) have increased corticosterone levels and delayed sexual maturation compared to their singly housed brothers. In the present study, we tested whether similar effects occur in female striped mouse helpers. In the field, young adult females typically do not breed in their natal group, indicating they might be reproductively supressed. Seventeen sister pairs from 17 family groups were studied. One sister of each pair was kept in the family group, while the other was housed singly at 3 weeks of age. Sisters did not differ in the age at which they reached puberty (on average at 6 weeks), their corticosterone levels, nor their progesterone levels. However, in neutral encounter tests, singly housed sisters showed more amicable behaviours when presented with unfamiliar striped mice of both sexes. Their high sociable motivation might explain why most females remain philopatric under natural conditions. We conclude that philopatric female striped mice in monogamous family groups arenot reproductively suppressed, but reproductive competition might occur in natural communal groups with multiple old breeding females, as observed under high population density.

Abstract

Alternative reproductive tactics of males have been studied in many species, but few studies have focused on females. In many communally breeding mammals, females can be adult non-breeding helpers, leave the group and breed solitarily, or they could be a breeder in their natal group, representing three alternative reproductive tactics. The reasons for delayed breeding are not well understood, but in many sociable species both male and female helpers are reproductively suppressed. Male helpers of communally breeding striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio) have increased corticosterone levels and delayed sexual maturation compared to their singly housed brothers. In the present study, we tested whether similar effects occur in female striped mouse helpers. In the field, young adult females typically do not breed in their natal group, indicating they might be reproductively supressed. Seventeen sister pairs from 17 family groups were studied. One sister of each pair was kept in the family group, while the other was housed singly at 3 weeks of age. Sisters did not differ in the age at which they reached puberty (on average at 6 weeks), their corticosterone levels, nor their progesterone levels. However, in neutral encounter tests, singly housed sisters showed more amicable behaviours when presented with unfamiliar striped mice of both sexes. Their high sociable motivation might explain why most females remain philopatric under natural conditions. We conclude that philopatric female striped mice in monogamous family groups arenot reproductively suppressed, but reproductive competition might occur in natural communal groups with multiple old breeding females, as observed under high population density.

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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:2014
Deposited On:25 Nov 2014 16:32
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:33
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0003-3472
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2014.01.029

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