Odor-related behavior and cognition in meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus (Arvicolidae, Rodentia)


Mammals have the ability to identify particular conspecifics and in doing so use this information to discriminate between them, and respond in a manner that increases their survival and fitness. This narrative focuses on the behavioral challenges that voles face when they have to make decisions about mate choice, same-sex competition, odor communication, and sperm allocation. The narrative points out the different decisions that voles may make when they encounter the social information contained in the scent marks and over-marks of different conspecifics. The narrative demonstrates that the choices made by voles, and their resulting behaviors, may depend on several factors including the vole's own condition, age, and sex and those of nearby same- and opposite-sex conspecifics. The results of these studies are ecologically relevant as they reflect situations and challenges faced by free-living voles. The range of situations that voles find themselves and the decisions voles make when they encounter a potential mate or competitor become the backdrop of the narrative. Concentrating on the responses of a single model species was intentional. This approach may allow specific comparisons with other terrestrial mammals, facing similar behavioral and ecological challenges.

Publication Title

Folia Zoologica