Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dominant Meerkats Render Rivals Infertile

Date:
August 8, 2006
Source:
University of Cambridge
Summary:
When pregnant, dominant female meerkats subject their subordinates to escalating aggression and temporary eviction causing them to become overly stressed and as a result infertile, a new study finds.

When pregnant, dominant female meerkats subject their subordinates to escalating aggression and temporary eviction causing them to become overly stressed and as a result infertile, a new study finds.

Related Articles


The new research reports that during the latter half of her pregnancy, the dominant female in a meerkat group commonly drives her subordinate females from the group for an average of three weeks at a time.

Evicted subordinates, typically those with whom reproductive conflict is most likely (females of breeding age, older, and pregnant females), suffer repeated attacks and chases throughout this period, leading to dramatically increased levels of stress hormones and a collapse in fertility. This tactic reduces conception rates and increases abortion rates among the evicted subordinates, who are only allowed to return to the group after the dominant female has given birth.

The dominant female benefits in two ways from reducing the fertility of her subordinates. First, her own pups will benefit from not having to compete with additional pups born to a subordinate for the limited number of available caretakers. Second, because subordinate females actually kill other females’ pups when pregnant themselves, reducing subordinate female pregnancy rates will reduce the threat of infanticide.

Dr Andrew Young, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, who led the research said, “The findings are particularly exciting as the consensus emerging from prior research on cooperative species was that dominants don’t employ tactics of this kind. It’s not yet clear whether meerkats are just unusual in this regard, or whether stress-related suppression is actually a more widespread phenomenon in animal societies than was previously recognised”.

Dr Andrew Young’s research is part of the Kalahari Meerkat Project, located at the Kuruman River Reserve, South Africa. The project is a decade-old initiative led by Professor Tim Clutton-Brock FRS, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, in collaboration with the University of Pretoria. A study earlier this year by Dr Young and Professor Clutton-Brock reported that subordinate female meerkats, if they do become pregnant, kill the young of other female group members, dominants and subordinates alike.

The article, ‘Stress and the suppression of subordinate reproduction in cooperatively breeding meerkats’, appears in this week’s issue of PNAS.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cambridge. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Cambridge. "Dominant Meerkats Render Rivals Infertile." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 August 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060808091758.htm>.
University of Cambridge. (2006, August 8). Dominant Meerkats Render Rivals Infertile. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060808091758.htm
University of Cambridge. "Dominant Meerkats Render Rivals Infertile." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060808091758.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Praying Mantis Looks Long Before It Leaps

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) Slowed-down footage of the leaps of praying mantises show the insect&apos;s extraordinary precision, say researchers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Octopus Grabs Camera and Turns It Around On Photographer

Buzz60 (Mar. 5, 2015) A photographer got the shot of a lifetime, or rather an octopus did, when it grabbed the camera and turned it around to take an amazing picture of the photographer. Jen Markham (@jenmarkham) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus&apos; parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins