Data from: Reproductive biology including evidence for superfetation in the European badger Meles meles (Carnivora: Mustelidae)
Corner, Leigh A. L.; Stuart, Lynsey J.; Kelly, David J.; Marples, Nicola M. (2016), Data from: Reproductive biology including evidence for superfetation in the European badger Meles meles (Carnivora: Mustelidae), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.r3761
The reproductive biology of the European badger (Meles meles) is of wide interest because it is one of the few mammal species that show delayed implantation and one of only five which are suggested to show superfetation as a reproductive strategy. This study aimed to describe the reproductive biology of female Irish badgers with a view to increasing our understanding of the process of delayed implantation and superfetation. We carried out a detailed histological examination of the reproductive tract of 264 female badgers taken from sites across 20 of the 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland. The key results show evidence of multiple blastocysts at different stages of development present simultaneously in the same female, supporting the view that superfetation is relatively common in this population of badgers. In addition we present strong evidence that the breeding rate in Irish badgers is limited by failure to conceive, rather than failure at any other stages of the breeding cycle. We show few effects of age on breeding success, suggesting no breeding suppression by adult females in this population. The study sheds new light on this unusual breeding strategy of delayed implantation and superfetation, and highlights a number of significant differences between the reproductive biology of female Irish badgers and those of Great Britain and Swedish populations.