n African Zoology - A case of natural queen succession in a captive colony of naked mole-rats, : research article

Volume 48, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X
This article is unavailable for purchase outside of Africa



Naked mole-rats occur in large colonies where usually a single queen monopolizes reproduction. Queen succession occurs from within usually as a result of aggressive encounters with subordinate females that queue for reproductive succession following colony instability, which inevitably results in death of either the queen or the challenging conspecific. We monitored a queen succession following the death of the breeding male in a colony of the naked mole-rat, , prior to, during as well as after replacement of the original breeding female. The response of the pituitary luteotrophs was investigated in the non-reproductive females during this period of instability by the administration of endogenous gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) and evaluating the subsequent luteinising hormone (LH) response in the blood. Larger and older non-breeding females engaged in aggressive encounters that culminated in death. The new breeding successor which arose from within the colony was a large female who continued to procreate. The six non-breeding females that were killed during reproductive takeover were larger and older females which exhibited elevated basal circulating LH concentrations as well as increased pituitary sensitivity as measured by the amount of releasable LH to an exogenous GnRH challenge. By contrast, non-breeding females that survived the succession were smaller and younger animals with reduced basal and GnRH challenged LH concentrations. Likewise, five non-breeding males which were heavier and older than those non-breeding males which survived were killed. These animals did not, however, show elevated basal or exogenous GnRH challenged LH concentrations when compared to the surviving males. The non-breeding animals of both sexes which survived the reproductive takeover event represented individuals which posed a minimal threat to the new successor and hence promoted the continuation of the marked reproductive skew that is prevalent in this highly inbred colonial subterranean hystricomorph.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error