Social and life history correlates of litter size in captive colonies of precocial spiny mice (Acomys)
Litter size is an important component of life history contributing to reproductive success in many animals. Among muroid rodents, spiny mice of the genus Acomys are exceptional because they produce large precocial offspring after a long gestation. We analyzed data on 1,809 litters from laboratory colonies of spiny mice from the cahirinus-dimidiatus group: Acomys cahirinus, Acomys cilicicus, Acomys sp. (Iran), and Acomys dimidiatus. Generalized mixed-effect models revealed that litter size increased with maternal body weight and/or number of immature females present in the family group. Thus, both maternal body reserves and presence of immature descendants demonstrating previous reproductive success enhance further reproduction in this social rodent.
KeywordsAcomys Rodents Litter size Maternal investment Precocial life history
We thank J. Sádlová, P. Kunzová, J. Flegr, M. Kaftan, and J. Borek for their help in collecting ancestral stocks of spiny mice. The project was supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Academy of Sciences (project no. IAA 601410803), the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic (MSMT 6007665801), and by the Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of South Bohemia (SGA2005/17). The personal costs of M.F. were covered from grant no. 20605H012 provided by The Grant Agency of the Czech Republic.
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