Problem solving in fawn-footed mosaic-tailed rats Melomys cervinipes is not significantly influenced by maternal care or genetic effects

Rowell, Misha K., and Rymer, Tasmin L. (2022) Problem solving in fawn-footed mosaic-tailed rats Melomys cervinipes is not significantly influenced by maternal care or genetic effects. Journal of Experimental Zoology. Part A, Ecological And Integrative Physiology. (In Press)

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Abstract

Innovative problem solving is thought to be a flexible trait that allows animals to adjust to changing or challenging environmental conditions. However, it is not known how problem solving develops during an animal's early life, or whether it may have a heritable component. We investigated whether maternal genetic and nongenetic effects influenced problem-solving ability in a native Australian rodent, the fawn-footed mosaic-tailed rat Melomys cervinipes. We measured direct (time spent grooming and huddling), indirect (time spent nesting), and total amount of maternal care received across pup development (postnatal Days 1-13). We measured problem solving in juveniles using matchbox tasks, and in mothers and adult offspring using six tasks of varying complexity (matchbox, cylinder, obstruction, pillar, tile, and lever tasks). We found no relationship between any maternal care measures and problem-solving abilities across multiple tests, suggesting limited (if any) maternal nongenetic effects. We also found that, as shown by low heritability estimates, problem solving only had a small heritable component in some tasks, but this was nonsignificant and requires further investigation. These results suggest that problem solving is unlikely to be constrained by maternal effects experienced during early development, and is, instead, more likely to be influenced by other factors (e.g., experience) later in an individual's lifetime.

Item ID: 75479
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2471-5646
Keywords: development, genetic effects, heritability, innovation, ontogeny
Copyright Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial‐NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non‐commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made. © 2022 The Authors. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2022 08:20
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310914 Vertebrate biology @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310504 Epigenetics (incl. genome methylation and epigenomics) @ 20%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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