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Variation in the onset of parental behaviours across four species of Peromyscus mice with different mating systems

Khadraoui, M. (2017) Variation in the onset of parental behaviours across four species of Peromyscus mice with different mating systems. Research Project 1 (minor thesis), Ecology and Evolution.

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Parental care is defined as any parental investment that results in an increase in offspring fitness and a reduction in parental reproductive potential. Although observed across the animal kingdom from insects to mammals, parental behaviours show great inter- and intra-specific variation in nature, intensity and timing. In biparental species, the mother and the father usually form a long-term association and rear their young together. Although both sexes can display parental behaviours, it may not be beneficial for them to be parental all their lives, and the onset of parental behaviours could be timed precisely. The wild mouse genus Peromyscus is an ideal model to study the evolution of parental care, as monogamy and biparental care have evolved independently at least twice in the genus. In this study, I compared the parental behaviours of males and females of four Peromyscus species at four reproductive stages: before mating, after mating, at late pregnancy and after giving birth. Peromyscus maniculatus and Peromyscus leucopus are promiscuous and uniparental, which was reflected by parental behaviours being mostly displayed by mothers. Peromyscus polionotus and Peromyscus californicus are monogamous and biparental, and both sexes showed parental behaviours, but with different timings and intensities. The former species seemed to be parental at all reproductive stages, with females being more parental than males. In contrast, the latter species was mostly parental after birth of the young, and both sexes showed equivalent amounts of parental behaviours. Infanticidal behaviours were mostly displayed by P. californicus before the birth of their young. These differences in the onset of parental behaviours are best explained by species differences in territoriality and dispersal, and highlight the independent evolution of biparental care and monogamy in this genus.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Project 1 (minor thesis))
Degree programme: Ecology and Evolution
Thesis type: Research Project 1 (minor thesis)
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:28
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:28

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