The reproductive state of female voles affects their scent marking behavior and the responses of male conspecifics to such marks


During the breeding season, the reproductive condition of female mammals changes. Females may or may not be sexually receptive. We conducted a series of experiments to determine whether reproductive condition of female meadow voles affects their scent marking behavior as well as the scent marking behavior of male conspecifics. In expt 1, females in postpartum estrus (PPE females) deposited more scent marks than females that were neither pregnant nor lactating (REF females) or ovariectomized females (OVX females). In expt 2, male voles scent marked more and deposited more over-marks in areas marked by PPE females than by REF and OVX females. In expt 3, PPE females deposited more scent marks and over-marks in areas marked by males than did females in the other reproductive states. The results of these experiments showed that male and female voles may vary in the number, type and location of scent marks they deposit in areas scented by particular conspecifics.

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