Animal Science Department


Date of this Version



Published in J. Anim. Sci. 1997. 75:641–651. Copyright © 1997 American Society of Animal Science. Used by permission.


Litter size in mice was studied using a model including ovulation rate, potential embryonic viability, and uterine capacity. Simulated results were compared with experimental results from a selection experiment with mice. The four criteria of selection were selection on number born (LS), selection on an index of ovulation rate and ova success (IX), selection on number born to unilaterally ovariectomized females (UT), and unselected control (LC). Comparisons were made to statistics of the base generation and to responses after 13 generations of selection. Phenotypic and genetic statistics for uterine capacity were generated so that simulations produced the experimental means, standard deviations, and correlations between left and right litter size, as well as responses in number born using the LS, IX, and UT criteria. Statistics for the simulated data generally agreed with observed values. Simulated heritability in the base generation for uterine capacity was .065. Experimental and simulated responses per generation in litter size through 13 generations of selection were .15 and .16, .17 and .18, and .10 and .11 for LS, IX, and UT, respectively. Simulated responses in uterine capacity after 13 generations were 2.19, 1.60, and 3.40 for LS, IX, and UT, respectively. Simulated means for the base generation were 13.22 and 16.30 for ovulation rate and uterine capacity, respectively. Uterine capacity was an important component of the variability in litter size; however, ovulation rate was the more limiting component.