Later On

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Mice mums get dads involved

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Interesting article by Dan Cossins in The Scientist:

Non-monogamous male lab mice are not natural fathers, but they do provide parental care when housed together with their mates and pups for a few days. Now, scientists in Japan have demonstrated that when both parents are separated from the pups, the mother communicates through ultrasonic vocalisations (USVs) and odor cues to stimulate the father to provide parental care when the offspring are returned. So it seems that when the mother fears for her pups, she tells the father to get involved. The findings were published today (January 8) in Nature Communications.

“We have shown before that male mice having been fathers for 5 days are ready for pup care, while fathers with 1 day of pup experience are not,” said Günter Ehret, a neurobiologist at the University of Ulm in Germany, who was not involved in the research. “This study suggests that not only the pups stimulate the males to become caring father after 5 days of contact, [but also] that the pup’s mother signals to the father that the pups may need help.”

Haruhiro Higashida and colleagues at Kanazawa University in Japan set about trying to find out precisely what motivates male mice to become active parents by studying pup retrieval behavior. When a new mating pair is continuously housed together with the pups, sires gathered and tended to pups very infrequently for the first 3 to 5 days, but then began showing signs of parental care. If at that point they are separated from the pups for 10 minutes and co-housed with the mother, sires displayed retrieval behavior when reunited with the pups. But male mice housed alone in a new cage during pup separation did not, suggesting the cues come from the pups, the mothers, or both. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2013 at 10:54 am

Posted in Science

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