Social Learning: Psychological and Biological Perspectives

By Thomas R. Zentall; Bennett G. Galef Jr. | Go to book overview

12
Culture and Genetics in the House Mouse

Danilo Mainardi Marisa Mainardi University of Parma Italy


INTRODUCTION: THE HOUSE MOUSE AS A MODEL SPECIES FOR THE STUDY OF SOCIAL TRANSMISSION

In present day taxonomy, the original species of the house mouse has been divided into seven species, one of which, Mus domesticus, this chapter concerns ( Marshall & Sage, 1981). To a varying extent, laboratory interfertility of the species ( Hunt & Selander, 1973) has probably contributed to the generic pool of laboratory mice. Nevertheless it can be claimed that the latter is derived from Mus domesticus ( Berry, 1981a). The tendency of modern research to use inbred strains has created animals with marked differences both between one strain and another and differences from the wild species ( Festing & Lovell, 1981). It appears however that outbred laboratory strains, particularly the Swiss Webster, are sufficiently generically similar to the wild species to be used as a model for the species ( O'Brien & Rice, 1979). We have therefore adopted a Swiss outbred strain for the first part of this research. The house mouse in fact presents a series of characteristics that make it particularly suitable for an investigation into the social transmission of information.

A brief glance at the geographical distribution of Mus shows its extraordi-

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Supported by Italian C.N.R. and M.P.I.

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