Social Organization Predicts Nature of Infant–Adult Interactions in Two Species of Wild Guinea Pigs (Cavia aperea and Galea monasteriensis)

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The authors compared interactions of infants with mothers and unfamiliar females in a novel environment in 2 caviomorph rodent species: the harem-living Cavia aperea, the probable progenitor of the domestic guinea pig; and the pair-living Galea monasteriensis. In C. aperea, interactions with mothers and unfamiliar females were largely similar; in G. monasteriensis, interactions with the mother, but not unfamiliar female, were characterized by physical closeness and sociopositive behavior. In G. monasteriensis, plasma cortisol levels were lower when with the mother than when with the unfamiliar female. Results are consistent with the species' social organizations and suggest that behavioral interactions of pups with mothers and other females in domestic guinea pigs reflect primarily the social organization of the progenitor species rather than domestication.



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