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Optimizing temperament through litter size in short-lived, iteroparous mammals in seasonal environments

  • A number of short-lived, iteroparous animal species have small broods in the early breeding season and larger broods in later breeding season. Brood size affects not only offspring size, but as recent results suggest, may also affect offspring's temperament, hormonal status, and aggression as adults. Most populations of short-lived, iteroparous mammals fluctuate predictably over the season, with low densities in winter, increasing densities in summer and a population peak in late summer followed by a population breakdown. If animals live only through parts of the season, possibly such differences in density and hence also in social environments among seasons require different personality types to increase individual fitness. We present data on behavior of European rabbits from a field enclosure study. These data clearly show that aggressiveness is higher in young from smaller litters than in young from larger litters, and smaller litters are usually born during the early breeding season. Moreover, our data suggest that behavioralA number of short-lived, iteroparous animal species have small broods in the early breeding season and larger broods in later breeding season. Brood size affects not only offspring size, but as recent results suggest, may also affect offspring's temperament, hormonal status, and aggression as adults. Most populations of short-lived, iteroparous mammals fluctuate predictably over the season, with low densities in winter, increasing densities in summer and a population peak in late summer followed by a population breakdown. If animals live only through parts of the season, possibly such differences in density and hence also in social environments among seasons require different personality types to increase individual fitness. We present data on behavior of European rabbits from a field enclosure study. These data clearly show that aggressiveness is higher in young from smaller litters than in young from larger litters, and smaller litters are usually born during the early breeding season. Moreover, our data suggest that behavioral types of the young rabbits are stable over time, at least during their subadult life. We suggest, that changes in mean litter size over the course of the breeding season may not only be a product of mothers' age or food availability, but may also have an adaptive function by preparing offspring characteristics for adulthood in a social environment undergoing predictable density changes within the season.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Jana Anja EccardORCiDGND, Heiko G. Roedel
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/dev.20547
ISSN:0012-1630 (print)
Parent Title (English):Developmental psychobiology : the journal of the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
Place of publication:Malden
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2011
Year of Completion:2011
Release Date:2017/03/26
Tag:European rabbit; Oryctolagus cuniculus; animal personality; competitive performance
Volume:53
Issue:6
Pagenumber:7
First Page:585
Last Page:591
Funder:German Research Foundation DFG [FOR1231-EC 361/6-1, RO 2431/3-1]
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
Peer Review:Referiert