The influence of the early rearing environment on the development of paternal care in African striped mice

Rymer, Tasmin L., and Pillay, Neville (2011) The influence of the early rearing environment on the development of paternal care in African striped mice. Ethology, 117 (4). pp. 284-293.

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In some biparental mammals, paternal care is important for offspring development and survival. We investigated the influence of the early post-natal environment on the development of paternal care in the naturally paternal desert-dwelling African striped mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio). Our aim was to establish whether the expression of paternal care in adult sons is influenced by their experience of paternal care. Offspring were raised in one of three conditions: both parents raised young; mothers raised young alone; and mothers raised young alone but were separated from the father with a barrier. The paternal care behaviour of sons was investigated when they were adults. Contrary to expectations, adult sons raised by the mother alone displayed greater levels of huddling behaviour of their own pups compared to sons raised by both parents. This response appears to be influenced by the early mother–son relationship, because mothers raising pups alone compensated for the absence of fathers by increasing the time spent with pups compared to mothers raising pups with fathers. The mechanisms underpinning the development of paternal care are not apparent in our study. Nonetheless, the development of paternal care is condition-dependent in male striped mice, indicating that the potential for greater levels of care occurs in the absence of the father and concomitant compensation of maternal care during early development.

Item ID: 33311
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1439-0310
Funders: National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand
Projects and Grants: NRF 2069110
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2014 00:16
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour @ 70%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060399 Evolutionary Biology not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 90%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960811 Sparseland, Permanent Grassland and Arid Zone Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 10%
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