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Do female rodents use promiscuity to prevent male infanticide?



Do female rodents use promiscuity to prevent male infanticide?



Ethology Ecology & Evolution 10(2): 129-141



It has been hypothesized that females could use promiscuity to prevent male infanticide: a female will mate with several males as a way to confuse paternity of her offspring, so the males will tolerate these infants that might be their own. If so, and all other things being equal, a female should prefer an infanticidal over a noninfanticidal male as a mating partner. To test this prediction, I examined the social preferences of female meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) and house mice (Mus musculus) toward infanticidal and noninfanticidal conspecific males. In each trial, a female was allowed to visit two compartments containing either an infanticidal or a noninfanticidal male. Females of both species visited both kinds of males with the same frequency. Similarly, females of both species spent a similar amount of time inspecting the compartments of the infanticidal and the noninfanticidal male. The frequencies of other female behaviors such as self-grooming, scent marking, or aggression, were also similar. These results provide no support for the hypothesis that female promiscuity is a female strategy to prevent male infanticide in house mice or meadow voles.

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Accession: 010489178

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DOI: 10.1080/08927014.1998.9522862


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