Long-term effects of accelerated or delayed sexual maturation on reproductive output in wild female house mice (Mus musculus)

in Reproduction

Summary. The effects of acceleration and delay of puberty in female house mice on survival and reproduction were tested using 6 experimental groups: (1) control females mated at the time of first oestrus, (2) females mated at weaning, (3) females treated with male urine starting at weaning and mated at first oestrus, (4) females housed in groups and mated at first oestrus, (5) females housed alone, treated with urine from grouped females and mated at first oestrus, and (6) females housed alone and mated at 68 days of age. Females caged with males at weaning or treated with male urine and mated at puberty had lower rates of survival to 180 days of age, but did not differ in rates of fertility from mice in the other four treatments. Those females that were housed with males from weaning or treated with male urine also had smaller total numbers of litters, fewer total young, and smaller average litter sizes than did females for which the age of mating was delayed, by grouping or treatment with urine from grouped females, or by being held until age 68 days before mating. Control females mated at first oestrus generally were intermediate or did not differ from the male treatments on these dependent variables. There were no differences in the average number of female young/litter across the 6 treatments. However, females that were delayed in age of first mating had significantly more male young/litter than did females that were accelerated in their sexual development or control females. Acceleration of puberty may therefore have certain costs for the lifetime reproduction of female mice. In contrast, females that are older at first mating apparently have larger litters, due primarily to the fact that they have more male young/litter.

Keywords: mouse; chemosignals; fertility; fecundity; puberty; lifetime reproduction

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    Society for Reproduction and Fertility


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