• Trivers–Willard Hypothesis

    In evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, the Trivers–Willard hypothesis,[1] formally proposed by Robert Trivers and Dan Willard, suggests that female mammals are able to adjust offspring sex ratio in response to their maternal condition. For example, it may predict greater parental investment in males by parents in "good conditions" and greater investment in females by parents in "poor conditions" (relative to parents in good condition). The reasoning for this prediction is as follows: Assume that parents have information on the sex of their offspring and can influence their survival differentially. While pressures exist to maintain sex ratios at 50%, evolution will favor local deviations from this if one sex has a likely greater reproductive payoff than is usual. more »
  • Daily Regulation of Body Temperature Rhythm in the Camel (Camelus dromedarius) Exposed to Experimental Desert Conditions

    In the present work, we have studied daily rhythmicity of body temperature (Tb) in Arabian camels challenged with daily heat, combined or not with dehydration. We confirm that Arabian camels use heterothermy to reduce heat gain coupled with evaporative heat loss during the day. Here, we also demonstrate that this mechanism is more complex than previously reported, because it is characterized by a daily alternation (probably of circadian origin) of two periods of poikilothermy and homeothermy. We also show that dehydration induced a decrease in food intake plays a role in this process. Together, these findings highlight that adaptive heterothermy in the Arabian camel varies across the diurnal light–dark cycle and is modulated by timing of daily heat and degrees of water restriction and associated reduction of food intake. The changed phase relationship between the light–dark cycle and the Tb rhythm observed during the dehydration process points to a possible mechanism of internal desynchronization during the process of adaptation to desert environment. During these experimental conditions mimicking the desert environment, it will be possible in the future to determine if induced high‐amplitude ambient temperature (Ta) rhythms are able to compete with the zeitgeber effect of the light–dark cycle. more »
  • Sire Genetics, Protein Supplementation and Gender Effects on Wool Comfort Factor in Australian Crossbred Sheep

    Aims: To investigate the effects of sire genetics, nutrition, level of supplementation, gender and their interactions on wool comfort factor (CF) and its correlation with other wool quality traits in crossbred sheep either grazing or supplemented with dietary protein. Study design: A 5 x 2 x 2 x 2 factorial experimental design comprising five sire breeds, two dietary protein sources, two supplementation levels and two sexes respectively, was utilized. Place and Duration of Study: University of Tasmania Farm, Cambridge, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, between April 2008 and November 2010. Methodology: Texel, Coopworth, White Suffolk, East-Friesian and Dorset sires were joined with 500 Merino ewes at a mating ratio of 1:100 in individual paddocks. Five hundred of the crossbred progeny were raised on pastures until weaning at 12 weeks of age. Forty of the weaners with an initial body weight (BW) range of 23-31 kg (average of 27 ± 3.2 kg) were fed with lupins or canola at 1 or 2% BW for 6 weeks in individual metabolic crates. CF and other wool quality traits were commercially measured at the Australian Wool Testing Authority, Melbourne. The data were analyzed in SAS using MIXED model procedures with sire fitted as a random effect, while sire breed, nutrition, supplement, level of supplementation and gender and their interactions were fitted as fixed effects. Results: CF was significantly correlated with fiber diameter (-0.89), spinning fineness (-0.95) and wool curvature (0.33). Grass-fed sheep produced wool with significantly higher comfort factor (93.1±0.3%) than supplemented sheep (CF=85.9±1.1%). Sire genetics was a significant source of CF variation; White Suffolk crosses had the highest CF (90.1±8.7) and East-Friesian crosses the least (81.5 ± 10.1%). Males fed canola at 1%BW had the highest CF (90.8 ± 7.0%), while females fed lupins at 1% BW had the least (81.1±10.8%). Conclusion: From a practical point of view, sheep farmers engaging in prime lamb production with wool comfort factor as an additional breeding objective should concentrate their effort on grass-feeding White Suffolk x Merino wethers. During the winter feed gap, supplementing the wethers with canola at 1% BW will not compromise wool CF. more »
  • New Opportunities in Genetics and Genomics

    A collection of articles on new opportunities in genetics and genomics. more »
  • Measuring and Managing Wool Quality

    Processors and wearers still often judge the comfort of lightweight wool knitwear by squeezing the fabric to gauge how ‘soft’ it is, believing a softer feel or ‘handle’ will provide an excellent wearing experience and not prickle or irritate the skin. However, Sheep CRC research has shown this relationship to be unreliable. Reliance on this relationship means that uncomfortable wool knitwear is being produced and sold, which continues to reinforce the notion that wool is a prickly fibre. New objective testing devices for comfort and handle provide the opportunity to ensure all wool garments are fit for purpose and positively reinforce the exceptional comfort properties of wool. more »

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