Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Michael Ferkin

Committee Member

Corinna Ethington

Committee Member

David Freeman

Committee Member

Matthew Parris


Meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, live in transitional grasslands where food is available in patches of uneven quality. As such, voles may differ in their access to quality and sufficient forage. It is hypothesized that voles that have access to better quality and more abundant forage will be more likely to signal their interest in opposite-sex conspecfics and be more likely to secure mates compared to voles that do not have such access. This and related hypotheses were tested. The expression of the behaviors used to indicate interest in a potential mate varied with the nutritional status of the actor and that of the potential mate. The results of the first study showed that the protein content of a vole's diet did not affect the rate at which it self-groomed. However, the amount of time female, but not male, voles self-groomed was affected by the protein content of the vole's diet to whose odors they were exposed. Neither the protein content of a vole's diet nor that of a nearby conspecific affected the number of scent marks or proportion of over-marks a vole deposits. However, the protein content of a vole's diet did affect how it responds to the scent donors of a same-sex over-mark. Similarly, the protein content of the top- and bottom-scent donors' diets also affected how voles respond to these scent donors. Finally, food availability affected the self-grooming behavior of meadow voles, but not their scent marking and over-marking behavior. Overall, the behaviors that convey interest in opposite-sex conspecifics, such as scent marking, odor preferences, and self-grooming, depend on the nutritional status of both the actor and the opposite-sex conspecifics in which the actor may be interested in as a potential mate.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

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