A free-ranging, feral mare Equus caballus affords similar maternal care to her genetic and adopted offspring

Cassandra M.V. Nuñez, James S. Adelman, Daniel Ian Rubenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Adoption of nongenetic offspring occurs in a variety of species but is rare in equids. We report a case of adoption by a freeranging, feral mare Equus caballus and compare the maternal care received by her genetic offspring (born 1995) to that of her adopted offspring (born 1996) for the first 30 weeks of development. We compare five measures of care: (1) total time spent suckling, (2) mare aggression during suckling, (3) number of mare-terminated suckling bouts, (4) contact maintenance, and (5) mare-foal distance. For most behaviors, we detected no difference in the mare's treatment of the two foals; however, mare-foal distance was greater for the genetic offspring. We compare hypotheses regarding the reasons for adoption, offering postpartum physiological state as a potential driver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)674-681
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Volume182
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Keywords

  • Adoption
  • Equus caballus
  • Feral horse
  • Mare
  • Maternal care

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