Pre-breeding food restriction promotes the optimization of parental investment in house mice, Mus musculus

DUŠEK, Adam, BARTOŠ, Luděk a SEDLÁČEK, František. Pre-breeding food restriction promotes the optimization of parental investment in house mice, Mus musculus. PLoS One, 2017, 12, 1-21. ISSN 1932-6203.
Kateg. publikaceVědecké publikace impaktované
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Litter size is one of the most reliable state-dependent life-history traits that indicate parental investment in polytocous (litter-bearing) mammals. The tendency to optimize litter size typically increases with decreasing availability of resources during the period of parental investment. To determine whether this tactic is also influenced by resource limitations prior to reproduction, we examined the effect of experimental, pre-breeding food restriction on the optimization of parental investment in lactating mice. Assuming that pre-breeding food restriction would signal unpredictable food availability, we hypothesized that the optimization of parental investment would be more effective in the experimental rather than in the control mice. In comparison to the controls, the experimental mice produced larger litters and had a more selective (size-dependent) offspring mortality and thus lower litter reduction (the proportion of offspring deaths). Selective litter reduction (size-dependent natural mortality of the marginal offspring) helped the experimental mothers to maintain their own optimum condition, thereby improving the condition and, indirectly, the survival of their remaining offspring. Hence, pre-breeding resource limitations may have facilitated the mice to optimize their inclusive fitness. On the other hand, in the control females, the absence of environmental cues indicating a risky environment led to “maternal optimism” (overemphasizing good conditions at the time of breeding), which resulted in the production of litters of super-optimal size and consequently higher reproductive costs during lactation, including higher offspring mortality. Our study therefore provides the first evidence that pre-breeding food restriction promotes the optimization of parental investment, including offspring number and developmental success.

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