Reproduction, aging and mortality rate in social subterranean mole voles (Ellobius talpinus Pall.)
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Eusocial subterranean rodents of the Bathyergidae family have enormous longevity. The long lifespan of these species is associated with negligible senescence, that is, an absence of the signs of age-related deterioration in physical condition. The question arises as to whether these features are unique to eusocial Bathyergids or typical of other social subterranean rodents as well. In the present study, we analysed data from observations of a social subterranean Microtinae rodent, the northern mole vole (Ellobius talpinus Pall.), which, like mole-rats, has reproductive skew. Among the individuals captured in the wild and maintained in captivity, females that reproduced lived significantly longer than non-breeding females. We did not find any changes in muscle strength with age in any of the demographic groups studied. Faecal glucocorticoid concentrations before death were significantly higher in non-breeding females than in breeding females and males. Increased adrenocortical activity may be one mechanism responsible for the decreased lifespan of non-reproducing individuals of social subterranean rodents. We conclude that the patterns of aging, although different in some respects, are generally common for social subterranean rodents of different taxonomic groups.
KeywordsAging Longevity Reproductive skew Sociality Subterranean rodents
We are grateful to Academician Vladimir Skulachev who initiated this study. We thank our colleagues who contributed to the study: Ludmila Gerlinskaya for consultations on the hormonal assays, Vasili Manskikh for necropsy results, and Ivan Polikarpov for technical assistance and data processing. This study was supported by the Federal Fundamental Scientific Research Program for 2013–2020 (#VI.51.1.6.) and Russian Foundation for Basal Research, grant 13-04-01045.
Compliance with ethical standards
Human animals and inform consent
All manipulations with the animals were performed with care and according to local and national legal requirements. The Experimental protocol conforms to the provisions of the Declaration of Helsinki.
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