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The effects of dietary protein content on growth and maturation in deer mice

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Growth and female maturation appear to be limited by the availability of dietary protein in natural populations of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus borealis) in the Kananaskis Valley, Alberta. We examined the effects of dietary protein content on nestling growth rates and sexual maturation of female deer mice in two laboratory experiments. In the first, mice whose mothers were fed a low-protein mixture of sunflower seeds and oats (14% protein) exhibited slow growth prior to weaning and those fed high-protein cat food (30% protein) postweaning showed compensatory growth. Preweaning but not postweaning diet quality affected the proportion of females who were sexually mature at 42 days of age. Therefore, while deficient nestling growth can be compensated for, the effects of a low-quality maternal diet during lactation may have lasting effects on the maturation of female offspring. In the second experiment, mice raised on isocaloric diets of 14, 20, and 30% protein did not differ in growth as nestlings or juveniles. Differences among the three diets in the proportion of mature females at 42 days did not correspond to dietary protein levels as predicted. Dietary protein content from 14 to 30% appear to be sufficient for juvenile mice raised in captivity.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 1999

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  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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