In a new study conducted by a team of researchers, they uncover the genetics behind parental behaviors by exploring links between specific genes and parenting in different mice species. In their study, they were able to determine that the gene that produces the hormone vasopressin is found to be linked to nest-building behavior in mice.
Before discovering this, the researchers studied the behavior of male and female Oldfield mice and deer mice. They looked at how often each species took part in nest building, licking, and huddling their young. From this observation, they found that the females in both species were attentive mothers, but of the males, the Oldfield mice fathers were just as involved while the deer mice fathers had little participation. The scientist then places deer mice pups with Oldfield mice parents, then observed how those pups evolved as parents. After conducting this experiment, they determined that genetics plays a role in parenting, and decided to cross breed the two species of mice, and eventually creating a second generation of hybrid mice with genes from both species. They then looked at the genome and the hypothalamus to determined parental behavior.
I found this article very interesting because it has opened the door for researchers to study the brain's function in parenting behavior, by looking at specific genes. It was also interesting to learn about the approach the researchers took in order to collect their data.