Size, season and offspring sex affect milk composition and juvenile survival in wild kangaroos
L Quesnel, A MacKay, DM Forsyth, KR Nicholas, M Festa-Bianchet
JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY | WILEY | Published : 2017
The main component of mammalian maternal care is milk production. The composition of milk has been hypothesized to determine offspring survival, and to vary with offspring sex. Few studies, however, have examined variation in milk composition of wild mammals in seasonal environments, where environmental conditions can impact the ability of mothers to provide care. We investigated individual differences in milk composition and offspring survival in wild eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus). We analyzed total protein and lipid concentrations in 103 milk samples from 91 females over 2 years. In a year of low forage production, few females that lactated were in poorer condition and produc..View full abstract
We thank Julie Sharp who provided space and equipment at Deakin University for analyses, and Vengaimu Modepalli and the other graduate students who helped. We are grateful to Graeme Coulson for his key contribution to all aspects of the kangaroo research at the Wilson Promontory. [Correction added on 13 April 2017, after first online publication: The preceding line was omitted and this has been corrected in this current version.] We acknowledge W. J. King, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts. This study was funded by the National Geographic Society, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Fonds de Recherche Quebecois en Nature et Technologies (FRQNT) and the Ministere de l 'Education, du Loisir et du Sport of Quebec (MELS). Handling of animals was authorized by the University of Melbourne Animal Ethics Committee (1312902) and by the Universite de Sherbrooke Animal Care Committee (MFB2012-02), affiliated with the Canadian Council on Animal Care.