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Keywords:

  • activational effects;
  • early postnatal environment;
  • maternal care;
  • organizational effects;
  • paternal care;
  • Rhabdomys pumilio

Abstract

The development of maternal care in mammals can be influenced by the type and quality of maternal care received. Using biparental striped mice Rhabdomys pumilio, we investigated whether development of maternal care is influenced by the mother during early rearing and by an adult female's experience and that of her mate. Offspring were raised in one of three treatments, by: both parents; mothers alone; and mothers separated from the father with a barrier. Since female striped mice increase their care when raising litters alone, which influences expression of parental care of their adult sons, we expected daughters to respond like sons. However, there was no treatment effect in the development of maternal care in daughters. In subsequent experiments, experienced and inexperienced females decreased care when raising their offspring with experienced but not inexperienced males. Therefore, maternal care in striped mice is modulated in response to prevailing environmental and social conditions. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 55: 265–274, 2013