The development of exploratory behaviour in the African striped mouse Rhabdomys reflects a gene x environment compromise

Rymer, Tasmin L., and Pillay, Neville (2012) The development of exploratory behaviour in the African striped mouse Rhabdomys reflects a gene x environment compromise. Behavior Genetics, 42 (5). pp. 845-856.

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Behaviour results from the interaction of an individual's genotype with prevailing environmental conditions, resulting in local adaptation to specific habitats. We investigated the development of exploratory behaviour in two closely-related species of African striped mice from the semi-arid Succulent Karoo (Rhabdomys pumilio) and moist grassland (R. dilectus chakae) localities. Irrespective of sex, R. pumilio displayed greater exploratory behaviour (open field) and greater use of the open arms of a modified plus maze, and thus were less anxious and bolder than R. d. chakae. When pups were cross- fostered between species, fostered individuals of both species showed an intermediate behavioural pattern between their foster and biological siblings: fostered R. pumilio explored more than their foster siblings but less than their biological siblings, whereas fostered R. d. chakae explored more than their biological siblings, but less than their foster siblings. Our study is one of the first to address how the underlying genotype and early postnatal experience interact to influence the expression of exploratory behaviour and personality. In particular, we showed that, in striped mice, the early postnatal environment shapes the anxiety responses and concomitant exploratory behaviour, but the genotype apparently modulates the phenotype and constrains the limit of behavioural flexibility.

Item ID: 33503
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-3297
Keywords: anxiety, behavioural development, early rearing environment, exploratory behaviour, gene–environment interactions, Rhabdomys
Funders: National Research Foundation (NRF), South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand
Projects and Grants: NRF Grant Number: 2069110
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2014 03:30
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour @ 70%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060201 Behavioural Ecology @ 20%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060303 Biological Adaptation @ 10%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 70%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960811 Sparseland, Permanent Grassland and Arid Zone Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 30%
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