Reproduction and mortality rates in ecologically distinct species of murid rodents
The trade-off between reproduction and somatic maintenance is one of the most studied concepts of modern evolutionary ecology. This theory predicts a negative relationship between maximum species longevity and total reproductive output. However, studies performed on natural animal populations have found contradictory results, probably due to the unlikelihood of wild animals gaining both maximum longevity and maximum potential fecundity. A comparison of the mortality rates and reproductive output of four ecologically distinct rodent species of Cricetidae family that were maintained in the laboratory in controlled conditions revealed the different life-history tactics of subterranean social mole voles and three related aboveground species: hydrophilic water voles, arid dwarf hamsters and steppe lemmings. Regardless of the relatively higher mortality rates at early ages in mole voles, this species has considerably higher maximum species longevity and smaller litter sizes that do not depend on calendar age, whereas in dwarf hamsters and water voles clear negative correlations between female age and litter size were detected. Steppe lemmings, as a semi-social arid species, shared some life-history tactics with both mole voles and aboveground non-social rodents.
KeywordsLongevity Survival Reproduction Murid rodents Captivity
The study was supported by the Federal Program of Fundamental Scientific Studies 2013–2020 (VI.51.1.8) AAAA-A16-116121410118-7 and by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, grants 13-04-01045 and 16-04-00888.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Keeping conditions were adjusted to the biology of each species to minimise the harmful and stressful effects of caging. Climatic regimes in laboratory rooms were comfortable for the animals; conventional diet was balanced and included all the nutrients essential for the normal grows and development. The rooms were periodically sterilised by quartz lamp. We did not disturb the animals without the reason. If deceased, individuals were carefully removed from the cages. All manipulations with the animals were performed with care and according to local and national legal requirements. The Experimental protocol conforms to the provisions of the Declaration of Helsinki.
- Bashenina NV (1975) Guidelines for the maintenance and breeding of new in the laboratory practice species of small rodents. Moscow University Press, Moscow (in Russian) Google Scholar
- Bashenina NV (1977) Adaptation pathways in murine rodents. Nauka, Moscow (in Russian) Google Scholar
- Cichoń M, Kozłowski J (2000) Ageing and typical survivorship curves result from optimal resource allocation. Evol Ecol Res 2:857–870Google Scholar
- Dammann P, Burda H (2007) Senescence patterns in African mole-rats (Bathyergidae, Rodentia). In: Begall S, Burda H, Schleich CE (eds) Subterranean rodents: news from underground. Springer, Berlin, pp 49–60Google Scholar
- Evsikov VI, Skorova SV, Nazarova GG, Moshkin MP (1989) Photoperiod effect on growth and reproductive functions in water vole (Arvicola terrestris L.). Ekologiya 6:58–63Google Scholar
- Feoktistova NY (2008) Dwarf hamsters (Phodopus: Cricetidae): systematics, phylogeography, ecology, physiology, behaviour, chemical communication. KMK Scientific Press Ltd, Moscow (in Russian)Google Scholar
- Gromov VS (2008) The spatial-and-ethological population structure in rodents. KMK Press, MoscowGoogle Scholar
- Panteleev PA (1968) Population ecology of the water vole and methods for control. Nauka, Moscow (in Russian) Google Scholar
- Pavlinov IY, Lissovsky AA (2012) The mammals of Russia: a taxonomic and geographic reference. KMK, MoscowGoogle Scholar
- Potapov MA, Rogov VG, Ovchinnikova LE et al (2004) The effect of winter food stores on body mass and winter survival of water voles, Arvicola terrestris, in Western Siberia: the implications for population dynamics. Folia Zool 53:37–46Google Scholar
- Stearns SC (1992) The evolution of life histories. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Williams GC (1966) Adaptation and natural selection: a critique of some current evolutionary thought. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar