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Endocranial volume increases across captive generations in the endangered Mexican wolf

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posted on 2022-09-29, 06:47 authored by L Siciliano-Martina, M Michaud, BP Tanis, Emily SciclunaEmily Scicluna, AM Lawing
Endangered animals in captivity may display reduced brain sizes due to captive conditions and limited genetic diversity. Captive diets, for example, may differ in nutrition and texture, altering cranial musculature and alleviating constraints on cranial shape development. Changes in brain size are associated with biological fitness, which may limit reintroduction success. Little is known about how changes in brain size progress in highly managed carnivoran populations and whether such traits are retained among reintroduced populations. Here, we measured the endocranial volume of preserved Mexican wolf skulls across captive generations and between captive, wild, and reintroduced populations and assessed endocranial volume dependence on inbreeding and cranial musculature. Endocranial volume increased across captive generations. However, we did not detect a difference among captive, wild, and reintroduced groups, perhaps due to the variability across captive generations. We did not find a relationship between endocranial volume and either inbreeding or cranial musculature, although the captive population displayed an increase in the cross-sectional area of the masseter muscle. We hypothesize that the increase in endocranial volume observed across captive generations may be related to the high-quality nutrition provided in captivity.

Funding

This research was funded, in part, through the EEB Research Award from the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology program at Texas A&M University.

History

Publication Date

2022-05-17

Journal

Scientific Reports

Volume

12

Issue

1

Article Number

8147

Pagination

8p.

Publisher

Nature Portfolio

ISSN

2045-2322

Rights Statement

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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