Preference for outbreeding in inbred Littledale's whistling rats Parotomys littledalei

Pillay, Neville, and Rymer, Tasmin L. (2017) Preference for outbreeding in inbred Littledale's whistling rats Parotomys littledalei. Evolutionary Biology, 44 (1). pp. 21-30.

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Inbreeding is sometimes tolerated in species occupying patchy, unpredictable habitats, when it becomes too costly to outbreed. Although traits leading to inbreeding depression may be selected against, the accumulation of deleterious alleles from constant inbreeding might promote outbreeding. Littledale's whistling rat Parotomys littledalei occupies patchy habitats in arid western South Africa, and inbreeds in captivity without suffering inbreeding depression. We tested whether female whistling rats make different mate choice decisions based on their inbreeding status, by providing inbred and outbred females with male odours in four pairwise combinations: unrelated outbred (r = 0) versus either familiar littermate sibling (r = 0.5), half-sibling (r = 0.25), first cousin (r = 0.125), or unrelated inbred (r = 0). Inbred females generally pre- ferred unrelated males, but did not show a preference between unrelated males and first cousins. In contrast, outbred females did not generally show a preference, but preferred first cousins to unrelated males. In breeding trials, reproductive success (output and viability of young) of outbred females paired with unrelated or related males was equally high, whereas inbred females suffered reduced reproductive success when paired with closely-related males. Our results indicate that the inbreeding status of female whistling rats influences their decision to outbreed or inbreed, which might influence their fitness. While outbred whistling rats do not suffer inbreeding depression, the costs of constant inbreeding could promote outbreeding by inbred females. We propose that the choice to inbreed or outbreed in female whistling rats depends on their inbreeding status and the genetic relatedness of available mates, with outbreeding more likely to occur unless unrelated mates are not available.

Item ID: 43919
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1934-2845
Keywords: genetic constitution, inbreeding, mate choice, outbreeding, patchy habitat
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2016 01:41
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 80%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310914 Vertebrate biology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 80%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960811 Sparseland, Permanent Grassland and Arid Zone Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 20%
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