J. F. Holson, W. J. Scott, D. W. Gaylor, J. G. Wilson, Reduced interlitter variability in rats resulting from a restricted mating period, and reassessment of the “litter effect”. Teratology 14, 135-141 (1976). View pdf of full article
Rats were mated for two or 15 hours and variability of day-12 embryos in weight, protein content, and [³H]thymidine incorporation was compared in the long mating period (LMP) and short mating period (SMP) groups by a 2-level nested analysis of variance. Variability in day-20 fetal weight was similarly compared. In both groups day-12 embryonic weight was relatively more variable than day-20 fetal weight, and variability was less in SMP than LMP animals for each comparison made, although statistical significance was attained only for thymidine incorporation. “Litter effects” were noted but not of the magnitude reported by other investigators. It was concluded that inappropriate statistical methods have encouraged the belief that among-litter variability usually exceeds within-litter fetal weight variability. The teratological implications of reduced developmental variability and the “litter effect” are discussed.