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Rapid establishment of teat order and allonursing in wild boar (Sus scrofa)

Arnold, LC, Habe, M, Troxler, J, Nowack, J and Vetter, SG (2019) Rapid establishment of teat order and allonursing in wild boar (Sus scrofa). Ethology, 125 (12). pp. 940-948. ISSN 0179-1613

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/eth.12950 (Published version)


Transfer of milk is the fundamental common characteristic of mammalian reproduction, but species differ considerably with respect to nursing strategies. The consequences of teat orders and allonursing have been studied intensively in domestic pigs. However, whether similar nursing strategies also exist in wild boar, the ancestor of domestic pigs is so far not known. The occurrence of allonursing in wild boar is only described anecdotally, and the question whether a teat order is established has not yet been investigated. Studying suckling behaviour of 29 piglets from six primiparous wild boar females in a semi‐natural environment we found a surprisingly fast development of a rigid teat order among littermates, which established within 2.2 hr after birth. This suggests strong fitness benefits of this phenomenon that may ultimately explain the evolution and maintenance of this trait. We further found a strong synchrony of oestrus and delivery among the females of a group, as well as the occurrence of allonursing. By determining the amount of allonursing for the first time quantitatively, we demonstrate the importance of this trait and its presumably pivotal role for juvenile survival under truly natural conditions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0608 Zoology, 1701 Psychology, 0603 Evolutionary Biology
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Wiley
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Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2020 09:38
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 07:37
DOI or ID number: 10.1111/eth.12950
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12571
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