Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Michael H Ferkin

Committee Member

Stephan j Schoech

Committee Member

David A Freeman

Committee Member

Corinna Ethington


Many female small mammals face limited food availability during pregnancy, postpartum estrus and/or lactation.The amount of food that is available to these females may influence their behavior and reproductive success. My research examined the response of female meadow voles in different reproductive states when faced with nutritional stress in terms of reproductive behaviors(sexual and maternal behavior) and how maternal nutrition and/or maternal care can affect individual variation is some aspects of offspring phenotype. I found that during PPE, females that were FD or FR during late pregnncy were sexually less receptive and produced scent marks that were no longer as attractive as those produced by control PPE females. FD but not FR caused females to no longer display preferences for the scent marks of males (proceptivity). I also discovered that dams that were not FR spent more time engaged in maternal behavior during lactation compared to dams that were food restricted at this time. Dams that were FR during days 8-14 of lactation displayed the most pronounced decline in maternal behavior relative to dams that were restricted during days 1-7 or days 15-21 of lactation. Lastly, I found that FR during days 8-14 of lactation induced deficits in sexual behavior and body mass of male and female offspring at puberty and later as adults. A reduction in maternal care or the food restriction experienced by the pups singly or together may be sufficient to trigger persistent, sex-specific effects on the body mass and sexual behavior of male and female meadow voles similar to those observed in other rodents.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

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