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Reproduction growth and development in 2 species of cloud forest peromyscus from southern mexico

Reproduction growth and development in 2 species of cloud forest peromyscus from southern mexico

Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural History University of Kansas (67): 1-22

Reproduction and ontogeny in P. melanocarpus and P. mexicanus totontepecus were examined in the laboratory. Both species occur in the humid cloud forest on the Gulf slope of the Sierra de Juarez in northeastern Oaxaca, Mexico. This area is relatively rich in rodent species and the rodent assemblage is diverse with regard to litter size and breeding season. Both species are relatively conservative with regard to reproductive rates. Litter sizes and weights are low and it is thought that the stability and predictability of the cloud forest environment allows for breeding longevity. Rates of growth and development are also depressed in these species and this too may be related to habitat stability. An examination of data for 16 members of the genus indicates that litter weight, expressed as a percentage of adult weight, shows a strong negative correlation with adult body weight. This suggests a decrease in reproductive effort with increase in body size, which may secondarily be related to habitat stability. Data obtained on the species in this study, together with published information, suggest some interesting characteristics in demographic strategies. Both species maintain rather stable populations at high densities, produce small litters (in terms of both size and relative weight) and in other respects are K selected. The trends toward aseasonal breeding, evidence of post-partum estrus and occasional breeding among subadult females are characteristic of r selection. The theory of r and K selection may fail to take into account certain life history factors such as breeding longevity and this may be the reason for the apparent mixture of demographic characteristics.

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