A difficult childhood has extended the life of the mongoose
Zoologists and Britain and Uganda found that the mongoose, which has faced severe conditions in the first year of life had higher life expectancy than the animals that had “happy” childhood.
The article was published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.
The conditions in which animals spend the first time after birth can have a lasting effect on their lives. In numerous studies it has been shown that a good childhood has a positive effect on the lifespan and breeding success in many species.
Recently, however, there is increasing evidence that this relationship is not straightforward: for example, starlings and great Tits born in a “bad” year, lived longer and bred more successfully than birds raised in good conditions. Scientists assume that this may be due to increased maternal contribution or more stringent action selection in difficult periods.
The authors of the article studied the influence of the quality of the first year of life on subsequent fitness of a striped mongoose (Mungos mungo) is a small carnivorous African mammals. The researchers analyzed the results of 14 years of observations of animals in Uganda. As a measure of the quality of conditions used precipitation: previously it was shown that the higher the rainfall, the more food (mostly invertebrates) becomes available mangustan.
It turned out that the male mongooses, who grew up in a dry year, lived longer than those who grew up during the wet year, but had fewer descendants. And the males who grew up under highly variable conditions (i.e. in the year with large variations in humidity), not only lived longer than the others, but also successfully bred.
According to scientists, in the first case the correlation with the “choice” strategies for survival and reproduction: animals that had a rough childhood, to direct his forces first on survival and then on reproduction. In the second case, according to the authors, the correlation is explained by the fact that the strong variability of conditions in the first year of life makes animals more adaptable to difficulties, which ultimately increases both the lifespan and breeding success.
Interestingly, in females, these effects were not observed. The authors suggest that this may be due to the fact that the survival rate of females is more dependent on conditions which have their pregnancy and feeding children: it is possible that this effect simply overrides the impact of the first year of life.