Average daily metabolic rate, reproduction and energy allocation during lactation in the Sundevall jird Meriones crassus Academic Article uri icon


  • Summary 1 Non-reproducing Sundevall Jird (Meriones crassus) females (body mass = 84 g; n = 51), with a mean average daily metabolic rate (ADMR) of 88 kJ day−1, were divided into three groups: high (H), medium (M) and low (L) ADMR. It was hypothesized that ADMR is related to reproductive rate and predicted that the H group could support a higher reproductive rate than the L group. It was also hypothesized that allocation of energy differs with ADMR level and predicted that the H group would use mainly the reallocation of metabolizable energy to compensate for an increased energy demand for reproduction whereas the L group would increase their metabolizable energy intake markedly. To test the hypotheses, the females were mated and, in those that had litters (n = 32), changes in body mass and metabolizable energy intake were determined and milk production was estimated during 15 days of lactation. Litter size, offspring mass and growth rate were determined for pups. 2 Body mass of dams, litter size and body mass of young at birth were similar among ADMR groups. However, milk production was 42% higher and litter mass at 15 days was significantly greater in the H than in L group, supporting our first hypothesis. All females were in negative energy balance during lactation. Mobilization of body energy reserves increased with litter size but was similar among ADMR groups. In addition, the increase in metabolizable energy intake of lactating females above that of non-reproducing females was similar among ADMR groups and therefore the second hypothesis was rejected. 3 ADMR was reduced by 23% during lactation and milk energy was only 30% of total metabolizable energy invested in milk production in all females. It is concluded that lactating M. crassus used a combination of reallocation of energy and increased metabolizable energy intake during lactation. The efficiency of offspring production did not differ among ADMR groups and therefore a high ADMR has an advantage when food is abundant, whereas a low ADMR has an advantage when food is sparse.

publication date

  • January 1, 2003