A1 Journal article (refereed)
Early life of fathers affects offspring fitness in a wild rodent (2019)

Van Cann, J., Koskela, E., Mappes, T., Mikkonen, A.-M., Mökkönen, M., & Watts, P. C. (2019). Early life of fathers affects offspring fitness in a wild rodent. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 32(10), 1141-1151. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.13516

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsVan Cann, Joannes; Koskela, Esa; Mappes, Tapio; Mikkonen, Anne-Mari; Mökkönen, Mikael; Watts, Phillip C.

Journal or seriesJournal of Evolutionary Biology



Publication year2019


Issue number10

Pages range1141-1151

PublisherWiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Research data linkhttps://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1288354

Publication open accessNot open

Publication channel open access

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/65415


Intergenerational fitness effects on offspring due to the early life of the parent are well studied from the standpoint of the maternal environment, but intergenerational effects owing to the paternal early life environment are often overlooked. Nonetheless, recent laboratory studies in mammals and ecologically relevant studies in invertebrates predict that paternal effects can have a major impact on the offspring's phenotype. These non‐genetic, environment‐dependent paternal effects provide a mechanism for fathers to transmit environmental information to their offspring, and could allow rapid adaptation. We used the bank vole Myodes glareolus, a wild rodent species with no paternal care, to test the hypothesis that a high population density environment in the early life of fathers can affect traits associated with offspring fitness. We show that the protein content in the diet and/or social environment experienced during the father's early life (prenatal and weaning) influence the phenotype and survival of his offspring and may indicate adaptation to density‐dependent costs. Furthermore, we show that experiencing multiple environmental factors during the paternal early life can lead to a different outcome on the offspring phenotype than stimulated by experience of a single environmental factor, highlighting the need to study developmental experiences in tandem rather than independent of each other.

KeywordsClethrionomys glareolusliving environmentnutritionadaptation (change)survivalepigenetic inheritancedescendants

Free keywordspaternal effect; fitness; early life environment; intergenerational effects; adaptation; protein restricted diet; winter survival; population density; Myodes glareolus; social confrontation

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2019

JUFO rating2

Last updated on 2024-08-01 at 19:31