Male and Female Meadow Voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, Differ in Their Responses to Heterospecific/Conspecific Over-Marks

Authors


Christian T. Vlautin, Department of Biology, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA.
E-mail: ctvlutin@memphis.edu

Abstract

Voles use runways, paths, and trails that may also be used by rabbits and mink. These shared areas could contain the scent marks of conspecifics and heterospecifics. Thus, it is likely that the scent marks of heterospecifics may overlap or be overlapped by those of voles, forming over-marks. Much is known about how voles respond to over-marks of two different conspecifics. However, we do not know how they would respond to an opposite-sex conspecific whose scent marks are in an over-mark with the scent marks of predator or the scent marks of a non-predator heterospecifics. We tested the hypothesis that meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, differ in their response to the scent mark of the opposite-sex conspecific if the scent mark was overlapped by that of a mink, a vole predator, or rabbit, a vole non-predator. We found that female but not male voles showed a preference for the scent marks of the opposite-sex conspecifics that were part of the mink-vole over-mark when compared to those of opposite-sex conspecifics that were not part of the over-mark. This preference by female voles was independent of whether the male vole was the top-scent donor or bottom-scent donor of the over-mark. Male and female voles showed no preference between the scent marks of the opposite-sex conspecifics whose marks were part of or not part of the rabbit-vole over-mark. Sex differences in the manner that meadow voles respond to rabbit-vole and mink-vole over-marks are discussed.

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