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.

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 August 22, 2014 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 August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — New England farms are seeing a surge in younger farm hands as the 'buy local' food movement grows across the country. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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