Weaning in the guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): Who decides and by what measure?

Rehling A, Trillmich F (2007)
BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY 62(2): 149-157.

Journal Article | Published | English

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Offspring should be selected to influence maternal effort to maximize their own fitness, whereas mothers are selected to limit investment in present progeny. In mammals, this leads to a conflict over the amount of milk provided and the timing of weaning. The intensity and time course of such conflict has so far mostly been investigated experimentally in altricial rodents. However, it is expected that offspring options for conflict will depend on developmental state. We therefore investigated in the highly precocial domestic guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus) who decides over nursing performance and weaning and how pup state influences these decisions. Specifically, we tested whether a threshold mass of pups predicts weaning time. By exchanging older litters against neonates and vice versa, we produced a situation in which females differed in lactational stage from the cross-fostered pups. Our results indicate that females decide about the timing of weaning, as cross-fostered younger pups were weaned at a much younger age than controls and older pups benefited from continuing lactation of foster mothers. Growth rates did not differ in the treatment groups, and different weaning ages resulted in differing weaning mass refuting the hypothesis that weaning is based on a threshold mass of offspring. This constitutes clear evidence that in a precocial rodent, the guinea pig, decisions about maternal care are primarily determined by maternal state and little influenced by pup state despite the extreme precociality of offspring. We suggest that precocial pups show little resistance to early weaning when food is abundant, as they reach sufficient nutritional independence by the middle of lactation to enable independent survival.
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Rehling A, Trillmich F. Weaning in the guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): Who decides and by what measure? BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY. 2007;62(2):149-157.
Rehling, A., & Trillmich, F. (2007). Weaning in the guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): Who decides and by what measure? BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, 62(2), 149-157.
Rehling, A., and Trillmich, F. (2007). Weaning in the guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): Who decides and by what measure? BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY 62, 149-157.
Rehling, A., & Trillmich, F., 2007. Weaning in the guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): Who decides and by what measure? BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, 62(2), p 149-157.
A. Rehling and F. Trillmich, “Weaning in the guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): Who decides and by what measure?”, BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY, vol. 62, 2007, pp. 149-157.
Rehling, A., Trillmich, F.: Weaning in the guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): Who decides and by what measure? BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY. 62, 149-157 (2007).
Rehling, Anke, and Trillmich, Fritz. “Weaning in the guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus): Who decides and by what measure?”. BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY AND SOCIOBIOLOGY 62.2 (2007): 149-157.
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