Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 385–391 | Cite as

Communal suckling in the cavy Galea musteloides

  • J. Künkele
  • H. N. Hoeck
Article

Abstract

We quantified the extent of communal suckling in the cavy Galea musteloides. Six groups of animals were held in large indoor enclosures and suckling behavior was recorded over 113 h of observation. The groups contained 2–6 lactating females and 3–14 sucking pups. Due to the relative synchronization of births, 73% of the pups present in each group during lactation were non-offspring. Each of the 22 lactating females in the six groups suckled non-offspring in addition to her own offspring. On average, females suckled 86% of non-offspring present in their groups. Thus, 98% of all pups (n = 47) received milk from non-mothers. Although suckling frequencies were significantly higher for mothers with their own individual offspring than with non-offspring individuals, females invested more total time suckling all non-offspring than did suckling just their own; this was possible because for each mother many more non-offspring than offspring pups were present during lactation. Suckling bouts were significantly longer for mothers with their own individual offspring than with non-offspring individuals. The proportion of non-offspring suckling of mothers correlated negatively with the proportion of own young among the pups of a group. Non-offspring suckling did not affect future reproduction of females. Our observations demonstrate extensive practice of communal suckling in G. musteloides under laboratory conditions. Probably because all mothers of a group participated more or less equally in communal suckling behavior, the obvious cost of giving energetically expensive milk to non-offspring did not result in reduced (future) reproductive success. Potential benefits directly involved with communal suckling are unclear. More indirectly, communal suckling as well as birth synchrony might contribute to the formation of advantageous multi-litter kindergardens.

Key words

Communal suckling Cavies Birth synchrony Multi-litter mixing 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Altmann J (1974) Observational study of behavior: sampling methods. Behaviour 49:227–267PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Axelrod R, Hamilton WD (1981) The evolution of cooperation. Science 211:1390–1396PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bertram BCR (1975) Social factors influencing reproduction in wild lions. J Zool 177:463–482Google Scholar
  4. Bertram BCR (1976) Kin selection in lions and in evolution. In: Bateson PPG, Hinde RA (eds) Growing points in ethology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 281–301Google Scholar
  5. Bertram BCR (1978) Living in groups: predators and prey. In: Krebs JR, Davies NB (eds) Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach, 1st edn. Sinauer, Sunderland, pp 64–96Google Scholar
  6. Boinski S (1987) Birth synchrony in squirrel monkeys (Saimire oestedi): a strategy to reduce neonatal predation. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 21:393–400Google Scholar
  7. Boyd R, Richerson P (1988) The evolution of reciprocity in sizeable groups. J Theor Biol 132:337–356PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Caraco T, Brown JL (1986) A game between communal breeders: when is food-sharing stable? J Theor Biol 118:379–393Google Scholar
  9. Clutton-Brock TH (1991) The evolution of parental care. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  10. Clutton-Brock TH, Albon SD, Guinness FE (1989) Fitness costs of gestation and lactation in wild mammals. Nature 337: 260–262CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Crowcroft P, Rowe FP (1963) Social organization and territorial behavior in the wild house mouse (Mus musculus). Proc Zool Soc Lond 140:517–531Google Scholar
  12. Fullerton C, Berryman JC, Porter RH (1974) On the nature of mother-infant interactions in the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus). Behaviour 48:145–156Google Scholar
  13. Hamilton WD (1964) The genetical evolution of social behaviour. J Theor Biol 7:1–52PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Hamilton WD (1971) Geometry for the selfish herd. J Theor Biol 31:295–311PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Hoogland JL, Tamarin RH, Levy CK (1989) Communal nursing in prairie dogs. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 24:91–95Google Scholar
  16. Hückinghaus F (1961) Vergleichende Untersuchungen über die Formenmannigfaltigkeit der Unterfamilie Caviinae Murray 1886. Z Wiss Zool 166:1–98Google Scholar
  17. King JA (1956) Social relations of the domestic guinea pig living under semi-natural conditions. Ecology 37:221–228Google Scholar
  18. König B (1993) Maternal investment of communally nursing female house mice (Mus musculus domesticus). Behav Proc 30:61–74Google Scholar
  19. König B (1994) Components of lifetime reproductive success in communally and solitarily nursing house mice — a laboratory study. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 34:275–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kunkel P, Kunkel I (1964) Beiträge zur Ethologie des Hausmeerschweinchens (Cavia aperea f. porcellus). Z Tierpsychol 21:602–641Google Scholar
  21. Künkele J (1987) Die Reproduktionsbiologie des Wieselmeerschweinchens (Galea musteloides) in Gefangenschaft. Diplomarbeit, Universität KonstanzGoogle Scholar
  22. Künkele J, Hoeck HN (1989) Age dependent discrimination of unfamiliar pups in Galea musteloides (Mammalia, Caviidae). Ethology 83:316–319Google Scholar
  23. Lacher TE (1981) The comparative social behavior of Kerodon rupestris and Galea spixii and the evolution of behavior in the Caviidae. Bull Carnegie Mus Nat Hist 17:1–71Google Scholar
  24. Macdonald DW (1981) Dwindling resources and the social behaviour of capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrohaeris). J Zool Lond 194: 371–391Google Scholar
  25. Marsden HM, Bronson FH (1965) The synchrony of oestrus in mice: relative roles of the male and female environments. J Endocrin 32:313–319Google Scholar
  26. Maynard Smith J (1964) Group selection and kin selection. Nature 201:1145–1147Google Scholar
  27. McClintock MK (1978) Estrous synchrony and its mediation by airborne chemical communication (Rattus norvegicus). Horm Behav 10:264–276Google Scholar
  28. McClintock MK (1981) Social control of the ovarian cycle and the function of estrous synchrony. Am Zool 21:243–256Google Scholar
  29. McCracken GF (1984) Communal nursing in Mexican free-tailed bat maternity colonies. Science 233:1090–1091Google Scholar
  30. McShea WJ, Madison DM (1984) Communal nesting between reproductively active females in a spring population of Microtus pennsylvanicus. Can J Zool 62:344–346Google Scholar
  31. Mennella JA, Blumberg MS, McClintock MK (1990) Inter-litter competition and communal nursing among Norway rats: advantages of birth synchrony. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 27:183–190Google Scholar
  32. Millar JS (1978) Energetics of reproduction in Peromyscus leucopus: the cost of lactation. Ecology 59:1055–1061Google Scholar
  33. Oftedal OT (1984) Milk composition, milk yield and energy output at peak lactation: A comparative review. In: Peaker M, Vernon RG, Knight CH (eds) Physiological strategies of lactation (Symposia of the Zoological Society of London 51) Academic Press, London, pp 33–86Google Scholar
  34. Packer C, Pusey AE (1983) Male takeovers and female reproductive parameters: a simulation of oestrous synchrony in lions (Panthera leo). Anim Behav 31:334–340Google Scholar
  35. Packer C, Lewis S, Pusey A (1992) A comparative analysis of non-offspring nursing. Anim Behav 43:265–281Google Scholar
  36. Pearson OP (1960) The oxygen consumption and bioenergetics of harvest mice. Physiol Zool 33:152–160Google Scholar
  37. Pusey AE, Packer C (1994) Non-offspring nursing in social carnivores: minimizing the costs. Behav Ecol 5:362–374Google Scholar
  38. Reiter J, Stinson NL, Le Boeuf BJ (1978) Northern elephant seal development: the transition from weaning to nutritional independence. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 3:337–367Google Scholar
  39. Riedman ML (1982) The evolution of alloparental care and adoption in mammals and birds. Q Rev Biol 57:405–435Google Scholar
  40. Rood JP (1972) Ecological and behavioural comparisons of three genera of Argentine cavies. Anim Behav Monogr 5:1–83Google Scholar
  41. Rood JP, Weir BJ (1970) Reproduction in female wild guinea pigs. J Reprod Fert 23:393–409Google Scholar
  42. Sayler A, Salmon M (1969) Communal nursing in mice: influence of multiple mothers on the growth of the young. Science 164:1309–1310PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Sayler A, Salmon M (1971) An ethological analysis of communal nursing by the house mouse (Mus musculus). Behaviour 40:62–85Google Scholar
  44. Schaller GB (1972) The Serengeti lion. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, ppGoogle Scholar
  45. Schaller GB, Gransden Crawshaw P (1981) Social organization in a capybara population. Säugetierk Mitt 29:3–16Google Scholar
  46. Sluckin W (1968) Imprinting in guinea pigs. Nature 220:1148Google Scholar
  47. Trivers (1971) The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Q Rev Biol 46:35–57Google Scholar
  48. Wallis J (1989) Synchrony of menstrual cycles in captive group living baboons (Papio cyanocephalus and P. anubis). Am J Primatol 18:167–168Google Scholar
  49. Wilkinson GS (1992) Communal nursing in the evening bat, Nycticeius humeralis. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 31:225–235Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Künkele
    • 1
  • H. N. Hoeck
    • 1
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl für Verhaltensphysiologie, Fakultät BiologieUniversität KonstanzKonstanzGermany

Personalised recommendations