Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Michael H. Ferkin

Committee Member

Corinna A. Ethington

Committee Member

David A. Freeman

Committee Member

Matthew J. Parris


Meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, are microtine rodents that inhabit grasslands in the temperate zone of northeastern and central North America. During the breeding season, males inhabit large overlapping home ranges that encompass the territories of one or more females. Males and females are promiscuous and males compete with other males for mating opportunities with females. The threat of this competition varies depending on the presence of a rival, the number of rivals, and the quality of a rival. Male and female meadow voles scent mark and conspecifics use the information contained in these scent marks to locate mates and rivals. A strategy male voles use is to assess and respond to the scent marks of other males near a receptive female and modify their behavior and responses accordingly. My research examined the response of male meadow voles in terms of sperm allocation, self-grooming and sociosexual behavior, and responses to females in different reproductive conditions. I found that males tailor their sperm allocation strategically when they encounter the scent marks of males that differ in quality relative to themselves. Specifically, the nutritional status of the male scent donors affected the sperm allocationof male voles. I also examined self-grooming; a behavior that voles use to signal their interest in the opposite-sex. I found that the amount of time male voles self-groomed was not affected by the risk and intensity of sperm competition, but was affected by whether it occurred before, during, or after copulation. I also found that other sociosexual behaviors displayed by male voles varied with their occurrence in the mating bout. Sociosexual behaviors coordinate interactions between the opposite-sex and the pacing of the mating bout. Lastly, I found that males display some aspects of mate copying, preferring females with more male suitors than fewer male suitors. The social and sexual behavior of male voles allows them to find mates while competing with rival males.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.