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Reproduction triggers adaptive increases in body size in female mole-rats
Univ Cambridge, UK;Kalahari Res Ctr, South Africa.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8426-610X
Kalahari Res Ctr, South Africa;Univ S Alabama, USA.
Kalahari Res Ctr, South Africa;Univ Lincoln, UK.
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Biology and Environmental Science. Univ Cambridge, UK;Kalahari Res Ctr, South Africa. (Ctr Ecol & Evolut Microbial Model Syst EEMiS)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5582-2306
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2018 (English)In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, ISSN 0962-8452, E-ISSN 1471-2954, Vol. 285, no 1880, article id 20180897Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In social mole-rats, breeding females are larger and more elongated than non-breeding female helpers. This status-related morphological divergence is thought to arise from modifications of skeletal growth following the death or removal of the previous breeder and the transition of their successors from a non-breeding to a breeding role. However, it is not clear what changes in growth are involved, whether they are stimulated by the relaxation of reproductive suppression or by changes in breeding status, or whether they are associated with fecundity increases. Here, we show that, in captive Damaraland mole-rats (Fukomys damarensis), where breeding was experimentally controlled in age-matched siblings, individuals changed in size and shape through a lengthening of the lumbar vertebrae when they began breeding. This skeletal remodelling results from changes in breeding status because (i) females removed from a group setting and placed solitarily showed no increases in growth and (ii) females dispersing from natural groups that have not yet bred do not differ in size and shape from helpers in established groups. Growth patterns consequently resemble other social vertebrates where contrasts in size and shape follow the acquisition of the breeding role. Our results also suggest that the increases in female body size provide fecundity benefits. Similar forms of socially responsive growth might be more prevalent in vertebrates than is currently recognized, but the extent to which this is the case, and the implications for the structuring of mammalian dominance hierarchies, are as yet poorly understood.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The Royal Society Publishing , 2018. Vol. 285, no 1880, article id 20180897
Keywords [en]
Bathyergidae, growth plasticity, morphological skew, strategic growth, reproductive suppression
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Natural Science, Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-76873DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0897ISI: 000435198500030PubMedID: 29875307Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85048340975OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-76873DiVA, id: diva2:1233358
Note

Correction published in: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences, 2018, 285(1881):20181284. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.1284

Available from: 2018-07-17 Created: 2018-07-17 Last updated: 2019-08-29Bibliographically approved

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Zöttl, Markus

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