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‘Reproductive conflict’ could explain menopause
The mortality of older mothers’ offspring is 1.7 times that of younger mothers’ offspring.
Older orcas face higher offspring mortality than daughters - study
 
Conflict between mothers and daughters could explain why orcas are one of only three species - including humans - that go through the menopause.

Female orcas generally stop reproducing in their 30s and 40s but, just like humans, they can live for many decades after menopause.

Led by Darren Croft of the University of Exeter, an international team studied 43 years of data gathered by the Centre for Whale Research and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. They found the mortality of older mothers’ offspring is 1.7 times that of younger mothers’ offspring.

One of the main reasons for this ‘reproductive conflict’ between mothers and daughters is their reliance on food sharing. They forage together and often share salmon, with offspring commonly relying on their mothers for food for years.

Previous research by the team showed that post-reproductive orcas play a ‘grandmother’ role, sharing knowledge of when and where to find food, which increases survival chances for their family group.

Professor Croft explained: “Our previous work shows how old females help but not why they stop reproducing. Females of many species act as leaders in late life but continue to reproduce, but this new research shows that old females go through the menopause because they lose out in reproductive competition with their own daughters.”

Co-author Dr Daniel Franks, from the University of York, added: “…Our new work shows that if an old female killer whale reproduces her late-life offspring suffer being out-competed by her grandchildren. This, together with her investment in helping her grandchildren, can explain the evolution of menopause.”

Follow up work by the team will involve the use of drones to study orca behaviour more closely, including closer analysis of mother-daughter conflicts.

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New DNA testing scheme for the Russian black terrier

News Story 1
 A new DNA testing scheme for juvenile laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy (JLPP) in the Russian black terrier has been approved by The Kennel Club.

JLPP is a genetic disease that affects the nerves. In affected dogs, it starts with the nerve that supplies the muscles of the larynx leading to muscle weakness and laryngeal paralysis.

To find out which laboratories the Kennel Club is able to record results from, and which labs will send results direct to the Kennel Club, visit thekennelclub.org.uk.

 

News Shorts
Feline art marks 90 years of Cats Protection

Sussex-based charity Cats Protection is hosting a prestigious art exhibition to mark its 90th anniversary.

More than 200 paintings provided by members of the Society of Feline Artists will go on show at the charity's National Cat Centre in Chelwood Gate (28 April - 7 May).

"Art enthusiasts, students and cat lovers alike will all enjoy the exhibition, and we hope it will also inspire some of our younger visitors to get sketching," said Cats Protection's director of fundraising, Lewis Coghlin.