Parenting and potency: alternative routes to reproductive success in male Mongolian gerbils Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Adult male Mongolian gerbils, Meriones unguiculatusgestated in intrauterine positions between two female fetuses (2F males) are less likely than are adult males gestated between two male fetuses (2M males) to impregnate strange female gerbils with whom they are paired. The reduced copulatory success of 2F males is correlated with both lower circulating levels of and reduced sensitivity to testosterone. We asked whether 2F male gerbils compensated for their reduced copulatory success by increasing their parental effort. 2F male gerbils engaged in less sexual activity with their mates, but were more frequently in contact with pups than were 2M males, huddling over the young when their mates were absent from the nest. Although there were no differences in rates of survival or growth of pups reared by pairs consisting of a female and either a 2M or 2F male, mates of 2F males delivered significantly more pups as a consequence of copulations occurring during postpartum oestrus than did either mates of 2M males or females rearing young alone. We interpreted these results as consistent with Ketterson & Nolan's (1992, Am. Nat. (Supplement)140, 533-562) hypothesis of a testosterone-mediated trade-off between investment in sexual and parental behaviours.1997The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour

publication date

  • September 1997