Scent marking by common volesMicrotus arvalis in the presence of a same-sex neighbour
- 40 Downloads
Several vole species use scent marked runways radiating from their burrows for foraging and dispersion. These marks are probably used for social communication. This 4-day laboratory study investigated the environmental and social causations of marking inside pre-existing corridors in male and female common volesMicrotus arvalis (Pallas, 1778). Firstly I tested the novelty and the reinforcement hypotheses in isolated voles, predicting respectively a habituation or a continuous increase in mark deposition. I then confronted with each other two same-sex voles for two days to investigate the differences between males and females in the pattern of marks inside three corridors, one of which runs along the common partition with the neighbour. I tested the self-advertisement and territorial-defence hypotheses, respectively predicting in the presence of a neighbour either a similar marking between the three corridors or a greater marking in the corridor close to the neighbour than in the two other corridors. The results showed no habituation in marking, even in a familiar environment, confirming the reinforcement hypothesis. After the addition of a neighbour, only the females left more marks in the corridor that ran alongside the common border than in the two other corridors. The territorial-defence hypothesis was thus confirmed in (territorial) females while the self-advertisement was supported in (non-territorial) males. Finally, I tested the competitive-ability hypothesis in females, stating that the abundance of scent marks of an individual before a social interaction can predict its degree of intolerance in a future social interaction. The results from female pairs physically interacting for four days support the hypothesis.
Key wordsMicrotus arvalis odour rodent runways territory defence novelty
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Brown R. E. 1985. The rodents II: suborder Myomorpha. [In: Social odours in mammals. R. E. Brown and D. W. MacDonald, eds]. Clarendon Press, Oxford: 345–457.Google Scholar
- Gosling L. M. 1982. A reassessment of the function of scent marking in territories. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 60: 89–118.Google Scholar
- Harestad A. S. and Shackleton D. M. 1990. Cover and use of travel routes by female Townsend’s voles in a laboratory arena. Biology and Behaviour 15: 196–204.Google Scholar
- Jannett F. J. Jr 1986. Morphometric patterns among microtine rodents. I. Sexual selection suggested by relative scent gland development in representative voles (Microtus). [In: Chemical signals in vertebrates 4: Ecology, evolution and comparative biology. D. Duvall, D. Müller-Schwarze and R. M. Silverstein, eds]. Plenum Press, New York: 541–550.Google Scholar
- Johnston R. E. 1983. Chemical signals and reproductive behaviour. [In: Pheromones and reproduction in mammals. J. G. Vandenbergh, ed]. Academic Press, Orlando: 3–37.Google Scholar
- Lidicker W. Z. Jr 1980. The social biology of the California vole. The Biologist 62: 46–55.Google Scholar
- Macdonald D. W. 1985. The carnivores: Order Carnivora. [In: Social odours in mammals. R. E. Brown and D. W. Macdonald, eds]. Clarendon Press, Oxford: 619–722.Google Scholar
- Mackin-Rogalska R. 1979. Elements of the spatial organization of a common vole population. Acta Theriologica 24: 171–199.Google Scholar
- Pelikán J. 1982.Microtus arvalis on mown and unmown meadow. Acta Scientiarum Naturalium Academiae Scientiarum Bohemicae Brno 16: 1–36.Google Scholar
- Wolton R. J. 1985. A possible role for faeces in range marking by the wood mouse,Apodemus sylvaticus. Notes Mammal Society 50: 286–291.Google Scholar