A dispersive morph in the naked mole-rat.

Abstract:

:Close inbreeding is known for a variety of small mammal species for which a high probability of mortality during dispersal makes helping and delayed maturation a relatively secure fitness option. Prolonged inbreeding, however, is usually associated with lowered fitness, and it has been shown that most highly inbred small mammals and social insects have inbreeding-avoidance mechanisms that promote some degree of outbreeding. However, previous field and laboratory research on the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) suggested that this cooperatively breeding rodent is highly inbred, with new colonies forming by fission. Here we report the discovery of a dispersal phenotype that may occasionally promote outbreeding in naked mole-rats. These dispersers are morphologically, physiologically and behaviourally distinct from other colony members. They are laden with fat, exhibit elevated levels of luteinizing hormone, have a strong urge to disperse, and only solicit matings with non-colony members. These findings suggest that, although rare, a dispersive morph exists within naked mole-rat colonies.

journal_name

Nature

journal_title

Nature

authors

O'Riain MJ,Jarvis JU,Faulkes CG

doi

10.1038/380619a0

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

1996-04-18 00:00:00

pages

619-21

issue

6575

eissn

0028-0836

issn

1476-4687

journal_volume

380

pub_type

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