Molecular mechanisms of self-regulation in multiannual rodent populations: Experimental test of an updated hypothesis

W. Ian Montgomery*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


In Focus: Edwards, P. D., Frenette-Ling, C., Palme, R., & Boonstra, R. (2021). Social density suppresses GnRH expression and reduces reproductivity in voles: A mechanism for population self-regulation. Journal of Animal Ecology, 90, 784–795. Intrinsic population processes are important in the regulation of populations of small rodents, including those which display multiannual cycles. By measuring reproductive parameters, faecal androgen metabolites, and gene expression and DNA methylation in the CNS of juvenile voles, this paper demonstrates that suppression of reproduction occurs in female voles at high density compared to low density in enclosures, and that this maternal, epigenetic effect is also apparent in their offspring. This suggsests that direct density dependence influences reproduction and, hence, immediate rate of population growth, while gene expression mediated by DNA methylation blocking transcription, may have a delayed density-dependent effect in juveniles. Both direct and delayed density dependence are necessary to generate multiannual population cycles. Edwards et al. (2021) break new ground in demonstrating the molecular and physiological basis of variation in population dynamics of small mammals ranging from multiannual cycles to stability that have fascinated researchers for nearly a century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)780-783
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 05 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Animal Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • DNA methylation
  • gene expression
  • multiannual cycles
  • population
  • reproductive suppression
  • rodent
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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