When to have kids: A complex question for hazel dormice

Friday, April 27, 2012 - 09:01 in Biology & Nature

Claudia Bieber from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (FIWI) of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, and fellow scientists analysed a capture-recapture data set on common dormice (Muscardinus avellanarius) to investigate the life-history strategy of this species. These small rodents are about the size and weight of a wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), but, unlike their rodent cousins, they hibernate – usually from late September/October to April/May. This is reflected in rather different life history strategies: While wood mice may reproduce any time between February and October and have multiple litters in one season, common dormice give birth to young either as early as possible after waking up from hibernation, or as late as possible, just in time to get the young fit for hibernation. The research findings are published in the current issue of the international journal Oecologia.

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