Title

Short photoperiod affects the responses of meadow voles to the top- and bottom-scent donors of an over-mark

Abstract

Seasonally breeding animals oftentimes alter their social interactions as a result of the shift from a long-day to short-day photoperiod. When this occurs, behaviours and corresponding affiliations with conspecifics will change as well. Consequently, individuals may react differently towards signals made by conspecifics as a result of this seasonal shift. We examined the responses of short photoperiod (SP) male and female meadow voles to the over-marks of two opposite-sex conspecifics that were born and raised in the same or in a different photoperiod. We tested the hypothesis that seasonal differences exist in the responses of voles to the top- and bottom-scent donors of a same-sex over-mark. We predicted that SP voles would not spend more time investigating the mark of the top-scent donor than that of bottom-scent donor of an over-mark; a response that is different from that of long photoperiod (LP) meadow voles to the mark of the top- and bottom-scent donors of an over-mark. After exposure to various over-mark treatments, SP male subjects later spent more time investigating the mark of the SP female that provided the top-scent mark to that of the SP female that provided the bottom-scent mark and more time investigating the mark of the top-scent LP female than that of bottom-scent SP female, but they spent similar amounts of time investigating the mark of the top-scent SP female and that of the bottom-scent SP female. In contrast, SP females spent similar amounts of time investigating the mark of the top-scent LP male and that of the bottom-scent SP male, the mark of the top-scent SP male and that of the bottom-scent LP male, and the mark of the top-scent LP male and that of the bottom-scent LP male. The data provide mixed support for the hypothesis, indicating that sex differences exist in the response of SP meadow voles to the marks of the top- and bottom-scent donors of an over-mark. This suggests that the responses of voles to over-marks of donors from the same photoperiods vary seasonally for females but not for males. The sex differences in the response of voles to overmarks may depend on their reproductive state as well as the reproductive state of the donors and the position of the donor's scent marks in the over-mark. © 2011 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden.

Publication Title

Behaviour

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