Female mice prefer unfamiliar male songs when selecting mate
A new study has revealed that female mice prefer songs of mice that are different from their parents when selecting a matem in order to avoid the risk of inbreeding.
Many animals can learn the characteristics of a desirable mate when they are young, and this includes the ability to recognize and avoid mating with close relatives.
Male mice emit ultrasonic vocalizations, or songs, when they encounter females, and the scientists in this study investigated whether female mice can learn, remember, and prefer specific male song characteristics.
Female mice were raised with their biological father, a different father, or no father. Researchers at the Azabu University, Japan then recorded songs from 4 male mice, one of which was a close relative.
The female mouse was placed in a cage with compartments containing the male songs, as well as their sexual scents, and scientists recorded the time each female searched before making a selection.
The authors found that female mice displayed an innate preference for male songs from different families, and this preference was influenced by the female's reproductive cycle and scent-based sexual cues from the male.
Female mice raised by non-biological also preferred songs from other families, and no preference occurred when there was no father; these results indicate a possible learned behavior through exposure to the father's song.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
(Posted on 06-02-2014)