Seasonal Changes in Scents and Responses to them in Meadow Voles: Evidence for the Co‐evolution of Signals and Response Mechanisms


Relatively little is known about the mechanisms of communication during the non‐breeding season in species that are seasonal breeders. Previous work with meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, housed under long photoperiods, has shown that they prefer the odors of opposite‐sex conspecifics. In this paper, we investigated the effects of short photoperiod on preferences for sex‐specific odors and the production of such odors. Short‐photoperiod females preferred anogenital and fecal scents of other short‐photoperiod females over those of males, but did not show sexual preferences for three other scents. Short‐photoperiod males did not exhibit sexual preferences for any of the odors. Furthermore, scents from short‐photoperiod voles did not elicit sex‐specific preferences in long‐photoperiod voles, and scents from long‐photoperiod voles did not elicit preferences from short‐photoperiod voles. These and previous results indicate that both the odors and responses to odors change seasonally and that long‐photoperiod voles respond selectively to scents from long‐photoperiod voles and short‐photoperiod voles respond selectively to scents from short‐photoperiod voles. Taken together, these results suggest the co‐evolution of seasonal changes in scents and in perceptual or other response mechanisms. 1995 Blackwell Verlag GmbH

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