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Genetic, Physiological and Behavioral Backround of reproduction in the Rabbit: IV. An Analysis of Maternal Behavior at Successive Parturitions

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A previous study of maternal behavior in the rabbit dealing with the improvement in nest quality in successive parturitions is here extended to four other aspects of maternal behavior. No significant differences were found for scores on interest in young or pre-parturient aggression either among the four races investigated or over a number of litters. Race differences significant at the .05 level were obtained for post-parturient aggression scores involving two and four litters. A linear increase significant at the .01 level was revealed in the same measure for one race when four litters were considered. Significant racial differences were also found with respect to time of nest building. A second set of analyses dealt with the relation of other variables to the quality of nest construction. The only measure found to have a distinct positive relation to nest quality was the percentage of liveborn young suckled on the first day of life. An ambiguous, but weakly positive relationship was found between nest quality and time of nest building relative to parturition. A weak relationship was found between time of nest construction and the percent of liveborn young suckled the first day. These findings suggest the possibility of some factor or factors acting in common upon the nesting and suckling activities in maternal behavior.

Affiliations: 1: Hamilton Station, Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine


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