Mate choice for genetic compatibility in the house mouse
To evaluate the importance of lactational stress for sex ratio manipulation in postpartum inseminated house mice, 163 sexually inexperienced male and female BALB/c ABom inbred mice were mated and stud males were removed the day following the initial parturition. Randomly chosen dams were allowed to suckle their young for either one or 14 or 21 days. The results showed that two weeks of lactation enhance the incidence of total abortion of the litter conceived postpartum. If lactation continued another week, dams which gave birth to a second litter lost relatively more embryos during uterine development and the percentage of lost embryos was increased by the number of pups suckled. Among these dams, the number of embryos lost in utero correlated positively with viable litter sex ratios (percentage male pups) at second parturition, indicating that lactational stress enhances embryonic mortality and that this additional mortality predominantly affects female embryos.