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Offspring signalling can serve to communicate need to the parents and thus influence parental readiness to provide care. Offspring stimuli that affect parental care have been investigated extensively. Yet much less is known about the mechanisms leading to a decline in maternal motivation when conflicts of provisioning current and future offspring may arise. Here we tested responses by pregnant and non-pregnant female guinea pigs (Cavia aperea f. porcellus) to playback of pup calls during their period of lactation for dependent offspring. Most concurrently pregnant and lactating females did not respond to pup calls, whereas non-pregnant lactating females responded strongly. Our findings expand on previous studies by showing that female behavioural responsiveness to pup stimuli is strongly reduced by concurrent pregnancy and lactation. These instantaneous measurements of female responsiveness to young show more directly than standard measures like nursing performance or time to weaning how female motivation to care for current offspring is diminished by simultaneous gestation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-81
JournalBehavioural Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010

ID: 228141