Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The more the merrier: Promiscuity in mice is a matter of free choice

Date:
August 30, 2013
Source:
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Summary:
We know from earlier studies that mice can derive genetic benefits when females mate with multiple males, but until recently, the conditions under which females will voluntarily mate with multiple males were not clear. New results provide evidence for the infanticide avoidance explanation. Males that have a chance of reproducing with a female are unlikely to kill her young.

Choosing the perfect male depends on various factors.
Credit: Kerstin Thonhauser/Vetmeduni Vienna

We know from earlier studies that mice can derive genetic benefits when females mate with multiple males, but until recently, the conditions under which females will voluntarily mate with multiple males were not clear. Kerstin Thonhauser and her colleagues from the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology of the Vetmeduni Vienna conducted a series of experiments in which female wild-derived house mice (Mus musculus) could mate freely with one or two males while not in danger of sexual coercion by a male.

Related Articles


The results provide evidence for the infanticide avoidance explanation. Males that have a chance of reproducing with a female are unlikely to kill her young. Virgin males are known to be more likely to kill their offspring, so females tend to mate with multiple virgin males to reduce the danger of infanticide. When exposed to more experienced males, however, less promiscuity was observed. It is uncertain how the females can tell whether a male is experienced or not, but it seems likely that they can detect differences in the males´ scent markings.

Scent marking as a quality indicator

The scientists discovered that females were more likely to mate with multiple males when they produced very similar levels of scent markings. Females mate with a single male when they are able to detect a significant difference in the males' scent. Thus it appears that another factor which influences females' mating decisions is whether they can perceive a difference in the quality of the males.

Correlation between paternity and litter size

Litters sired by more than one male were larger than single-sired litters, however only when there was intense competition among males. "Our results shed some new light on questions about the sexual behaviour of mice, but we still don´t have all the answers," says lead author Kerstin Thonhauser. "We need further studies to understand why litters are larger when there is intense competition between males. Another interesting question that has remained unresolved so far is how multiple paternity affects the fitness of the young."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kerstin E. Thonhauser, Shirley Raveh, Attila Hettyey, Helmut Beissmann, Dustin J. Penn. Why do female mice mate with multiple males? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-013-1604-8

Cite This Page:

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "The more the merrier: Promiscuity in mice is a matter of free choice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130830091751.htm>.
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. (2013, August 30). The more the merrier: Promiscuity in mice is a matter of free choice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130830091751.htm
Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien. "The more the merrier: Promiscuity in mice is a matter of free choice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130830091751.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Amazon Keeps Its Green Thanks To The Sahara Desert

The Amazon Keeps Its Green Thanks To The Sahara Desert

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) — Satellite data shows the Amazon rainforest supports its lush flora with a little help from Sahara Desert dust. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 25, 2015) — Washington&apos;s mayor says the District of Columbia will move forward with marijuana legalization, despite pushback from Congress. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) — A new study says marijuana is about 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fox With Horrifying Injury Rescued and Released Back Into the Wild

Fox With Horrifying Injury Rescued and Released Back Into the Wild

RightThisMinute (Feb. 25, 2015) — This wounded fox knew what she was doing when she wandered into the yard of a nature photographer. The photographer got "Scamp" immediately in the hands of Wildlife Aid and she was released back into the wild in no time. Video provided by RightThisMinute
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