Sibling competition in guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): scrambling for mother's teats is stressful

Fey K, Trillmich F (2008)
BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY 62(3): 321-329.

Journal Article | Published | English

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Abstract
Lactation is the most energy-intense period in the life of a female mammal. This can cause severe conflict between mother and offspring over the duration of lactation but also between siblings over the amount of milk each pup gets from its mother. Thus, competitive interactions between siblings are expected, and competition is likely to increase with litter size, particularly in species where the number of offspring exceeds the number of teats. We studied sibling competition in the domestic guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus), which has two teats, but frequently bears litters of up to five pups. By cross-fostering we created non-competition ( control) litters with two pups and competition litters with four pups and observed nursing behaviour on days 5, 10, 15 and 20 postpartum. Pups of larger litters had lower growth rates, indicating increased competition among siblings in these litters. Pups of larger litters had to wait longer for access to a teat and spent less time suckling than pups of smaller litters but ate more solid food instead. Additionally, we manipulated the individual short-term need of pups by separating half of the pups of each litter for 2 h from their mothers before observation. Within a litter, hungry pups achieved access to milk faster and spent more time suckling than non-hungry pups. Pups competed mostly by scramble competition. Aggressive interactions occurred only in large litters. Pups of large litters had higher cortisol levels than pups in small litters. These effects decreased with age as pups became increasingly independent of maternal milk. Pup behaviour appears to fit better with models of scramble competition than with those of honest signalling.
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Fey K, Trillmich F. Sibling competition in guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): scrambling for mother's teats is stressful. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY. 2008;62(3):321-329.
Fey, K., & Trillmich, F. (2008). Sibling competition in guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): scrambling for mother's teats is stressful. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, 62(3), 321-329.
Fey, K., and Trillmich, F. (2008). Sibling competition in guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): scrambling for mother's teats is stressful. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY 62, 321-329.
Fey, K., & Trillmich, F., 2008. Sibling competition in guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): scrambling for mother's teats is stressful. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, 62(3), p 321-329.
K. Fey and F. Trillmich, “Sibling competition in guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): scrambling for mother's teats is stressful”, BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, vol. 62, 2008, pp. 321-329.
Fey, K., Trillmich, F.: Sibling competition in guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): scrambling for mother's teats is stressful. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY. 62, 321-329 (2008).
Fey, Karen, and Trillmich, Fritz. “Sibling competition in guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): scrambling for mother's teats is stressful”. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY 62.3 (2008): 321-329.
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