Environmental Influences

  • Effect of Selection for Wool Growth on Seasonal Patterns of Yield, Fibre Diameter, and Colour in Romney Lines

    Seasonal wool growth and associated wool characteristics were measured in a Romney line selected for high fleece weight and an unselected control line in 1990 and 1991. Both had a significant (P < 0.01) decline in wool growth rate in winter compared with summer. The wool growth rate advantage (P < 0.001) of the selected line over the control averaged 19 and 33% for ewes, and 24 and 36% for hoggets, in summer and winter, respectively. Staple strength, yield, and fibre diameter differences were closely associated with wool growth. Colour analysis showed no difference between lines in either brightness (Y) or yellowness (Y - Z). However, both the Y and Z values were lower in spring and summer, while Y - Z was highest in summer. The results suggest that selection for high fleece weight also improves major wool characteristics and reduces the relative winter wool growth decline in Romneys.More »
  • Environmental Responsiveness of Fibre Diameter in Grazing Fine Wool Merino Sheep

    Fibre diameter, fibre length, and the ratio of fibre length growth to mean fibre diameter (L/D), fibre diameter profile characteristics, and staple strength were examined in 16 fine wool Merino wethers in a 12-month field experiment. Variations in fibre diameter, fibre length, and L/D were shown to be associated with fibre diameter profile characteristics and staple strength. At constant fibre diameter, L/D was significantly positively related to variation in fibre diameter along the staple. A positive correlation between seasonal variation in L/D and variation in diameter between fibres was also observed. Staple length was significantly positively correlated with along-staple variation in fibre diameter and negatively correlated with variation in fibre diameter among fibres. Among-fibre variation in fibre diameter was not significantly correlated with along-staple variation in fibre diameter. Seasonal variation in fibre length growth, fibre diameter, and the ratio of length to diameter throughout the year was associated with increased variation in fibre diameter along the fibre diameter profile and reduced staple strength in grazing sheep. Seasonal variation in fibre diameter was mostly related to mean fibre diameter, L/D, and seasonal variation in fibre length growth rate. Changes in fibre diameter throughout the year were also related to seasonal changes in body weight, fat depth, and skin thickness.More »
  • 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 »