Striped mice more cautious of ‘nasty neighbour’ than mate’s defence

June 23rd, 2010 - 2:03 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 23 (ANI): The four-striped grass mouse (Rhabdomys pumilio) is certainly not fond of his neighbours during the breading season. Breeding males are much more concerned about repelling their neighbours than defending their partners from complete strangers, according to a new study.

The research appears in BioMed Central’s open access journal Frontiers in Zoology.

Carsten Schradin from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, worked with a team of researchers to stage encounters between wild mice in a specially created ‘neutral’ arena.

He said: “We found that breeding males tested during the breeding season showed significantly more aggression towards their neighbours than towards strange breeding males not neighbouring them. Breeding males were significantly more aggressive than non-breeders”.

This ‘Nasty Neighbour’ phenomenon has been seen in other animals and contrasts with the ‘Dear Enemy’ behaviour in which the breeding male will preferably attack strangers.

Both are ways of limiting the cost of territorial behaviour.

In this field study, the researchers were able to test the paternity of offspring conceived during the study period and found that neighbouring males were more likely than the wandering strangers to sire pups with another mouse’s ‘harem’.

Schradin believes this may explain the animal’s preference for neighbourly aggression.

He said: “We’ve found that the neighbours of breeding males pose a recognisable threat to the breeding male’s confidence of paternity, and suggest that this explains the occurrence of the nasty neighbour phenomenon in striped mice”. (ANI)

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