Sons benefit from paternal care in African striped mice

Pillay, Neville, and Rymer, Tasmin L. (2021) Sons benefit from paternal care in African striped mice. Developmental Psychobiology, 63 (4). pp. 662-675.

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Mammalian paternal care is rare and is often linked to enhanced fitness under particular ecological conditions. The proximate consequences of paternal care on offspring are lacking, however. Here, we tested whether levels of paternal care predict the behavioural, cognitive and physiological development of sons in the naturally paternal African striped mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio). We focused on sons raised in two treatments: biparental (both parents) or uniparental (mother alone) families. We recorded levels of interactions between pups with both parents, and later assessed the behaviour, cognition and physiology of sons at three developmental stages: juvenile, sub-adult and adult (sexual maturity). Sons from biparental families showed (a) reduced anxiety as juveniles; (b) greater exploration and social interaction at different stages; (c) better cognition; and (d) reduced corticosterone concentrations than sons from uniparental families. In contrast, sons from uniparental families showed greater levels of paternal care, although prolactin concentrations did not differ between treatments. Paternal care in striped mice enhances fitness of males. Here, we also show that sons benefit psychologically and physiologically through interactions with their fathers. However, sons also trade-off such benefits against their own paternal care behaviour, suggesting that fathers influence the development of their son's phenotype in complex ways.

Item ID: 65012
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1098-2302
Keywords: cognition, fitness, hormones, male parental care, Rhabdomys, rodent, trade-off
Copyright Information: Published Version: © 2020 Wiley Periodicals. Accepted Version: OA via Non-Commercial Institutional Repository after 12 month embargo.
Funders: National Research Foundation, South Africa (NRFSA), University of the Witwatersrand (UW)
Projects and Grants: NRFSA Award Number 2053514
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2020 07:41
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 70%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310999 Zoology not elsewhere classified @ 10%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310903 Animal developmental and reproductive biology @ 20%
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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