The number of male conspecifics affects the odour preferences and the copulatory behaviour of male meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus


We hypothesized that male meadow voles adjust their odour preferences and sexual behaviours in response to the presence and number of male conspecifics they perceive to have visited a sexually receptive female conspecific. Male voles only preferred the odour of the female previously associated with 3 or 5 males to that of the unfamiliar female. Male voles also had a shorter latency to mate and a shorter mating duration when they were paired with the female that was previously associated with the bedding of 3 or 5 males compared to males paired with an unfamiliar female. Mating and reproductive success, however, were similar for males paired with either female. Thus, male voles use public information provided by scent marks of male conspecifics and adjust their responses in favour of a female that they perceive to been visited by several males, although she may represent a high risk of sperm competition.

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