Vasilieva Nina Yu.
Khrushchova A. M., Shekarova O. N., Rogovin K. A.
A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Moscow
The desert hamster (Phodopus roborovskii) is a candidate to be used as a suitable model for study of physiological adaptations to arid environment. However in many laboratories the domestication of this species was not successful. Our goal was to establish a laboratory colony of the desert hamster and develop a breeding protocol, adapted to the biology of the species as far as it is possible. We started captive breeding program of this species in 1989 from about 10 founders trapped in Tuva region of Russia. The established colony was outbreed in 1990. Hamsters were kept in pairs that is not obviously corresponds to the breeding strategy of this species. During the first years in captivity the reproductive success of the pairs was very low. The proportion of breeding pairs did not exceed 15%, litter size among breeders and pup survival were low. One of the possible reasons was the high stress level revealed by cortisol concentration. The breeding data indicate that mate choice in a large extend may determine reproductive success in desert hamsters. A long-term (from nineties till 2015) selection over multiple generations for adaptation to captive breeding has leaded to very slow increase of a number of breeding pairs and increase of litter size. Interestingly that during last five years we observe the drastic increase of the last parameters to the extent known for natural populations. Thus, the proportion of successfully breeding pairs reached 75% and the litter size – 5.8+0.3. Our data indicate that adaptation to captivity in the desert hamster is positively related to the number of generations. In a course of adaptation to captivity hamsters had to coup with a nonrandom breeding and an extremely low population size. There were no indications of inbreeding depression or accumulation of deleterious mutations that usually correspond to small population size. Vice versa, significant increase of the reproductive success after a long period of stagnation represents a recover from population “bottleneck”.
Vasilieva Nina Yu., Khrushchova A. M., Shekarova O. N., Rogovin K. A. LONG-TERM MAINTENANCE OF THE DESERT HAMSTER (PHODOPUS ROBOROVSKII) COLONY IN THE LABORATORY: THE HISTORY AND PERSPECRIVES. Тезисы Девятой конференции специалистов по лабораторным животным Rus-LASA. https://doi.org/10.29296/2618723X-RusLASA2021-18