The main question behind this study is how the genome is translated into variation in complex traits. Of these complex traits, the most interesting is social behavior and it will be examined to show differences between parental care in species of the Peromyscus genus. Sharing of parental behavior and social monogamy have been seen in this genus and it has been noted that these traits have evolved twice by comparing two different species of the mice which are the oldfield mice and the deer mice. The oldfield mice live in close, sandy habitats and both parents provide equal parental care to their children, This is compared to deer mice that have a very different mating system with much less parental care with the father being particularly pronounced. These mice are not so different, so they are still able to produce fertile offspring which makes them excellent candidates for genetic crossing. The scientists in this study focused on the area of the genome that controls nest-making. The hormone, vasopressin, which is involved in male social behavior appeared to have the most significant difference when comparing the deer and oldfield mice with the deer mice having more vasopressin. This is the beginning toward more exciting discoveries in neuroscience comparing effects the genome and environment have on expressed genes and why certain differences between species exist.
Oldfield and Deer Mice