Wild mice offer a perfect model system to study the behavioural and genetic basis of mate choice, since they are still far more natural than common laboratory mouse strains in both aspects.Due to the vast amount of studies on lab mice, numerous genetic tools are available and can be also applied for studies in wild mice.In social animals, individuals interact with each other in a broad range of different situations.Interactions between individuals of different sex often occur in the context of courtship, pair bonding, and mating.A preference for some possible social partners over others can ultimately lead to mate choice. of the major histocompatibility complex, MHC), and proteins (e.g. Potential reasons for MHC being involved in mate discrimination are kin recognition and the enhancement of the offspring’s immune competence, which occurs by increasing either MHC diversity or dissimilarity by choosing a compatible mate .
In this study, we monitored the partner preference behaviour of female and male wild house mice () from populations in Germany (G) and France (F) in a controlled cage setup for 5 days and six nights.
To offer the same possible mates as in the study by Montero and colleagues , focal mice were allowed to choose between four partners of either the same or different population origins (France and Germany) or reciprocal crosses of both.
Focal mice were females and males of the same four genotypes.
To explain this, we propose familial imprinting as the most probable process for information transfer from father to offspring during the offspring’s early phase of life, which possibly influences its future partner preferences.
Furthermore, our experiments show that preferences can change after the first day of encounter, which implies that extended observation times might be required to obtain results that allow a valid ecological interpretation.