Acta Theriologica

, Volume 48, Issue 3, pp 335–346 | Cite as

Influence of operational sex ratio and density on the copulatory behaviour and mating system of Brandt’s voleMicrotus brandti

  • Jianjun Zhang
  • Zhibin Zhang


The pattern of copulatory behaviour of Brandt’s voleMicrotus brandti (Radde, 1861) is similar to patterns 11 and 12 as described by Dewsbury and Dixson: no lock, single intromission, thrusting after intromission and multiple ejaculations. Under constant density, when the operational sex ratio (OSR, male to female) was skewed to the males, the mating opportunity of males decreased due to mating interference, while the mating input of female remained the same; when the OSR was skewed to the females, male voles tended to increase mating input while females did not. Under the same OSR (1∶1), when density increased, the mating opportunity of both sexes dramatically decreased due to mating interference between same sex individuals; the thrusting frequency of males increased, probably due to compensation for the decreased mating opportunity. There was a considerable probability of the voles forming monogamous and polygynous mating relationships. Our results did not support the prediction that when OSR is skewed to male, the mating interval of males will shorten. We suggest that the most predominant mating system and mating interference should be taken into account when investigating an OSR effect. Our study suggested that the Brandt’s vole is prone predominantly to monogamy and polygyny. However, due to limitation of observation in the laboratory, further work should be combined with studies in the field.

Key words

Microtus brandti operational sex ratio copulatory behaviour mating system mating interference density 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Dewsbury D. A. 1972. Patterns of copulatory behavior in male mammals. The Quarterly Review of Biology 47: 1–33.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Dewsbury D. A. 1973. Copulatory behavior of montane voles (Microtus montanus). Behavior 44: 186–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dewsbury D. A. 1975. Diversity and adaptation in rodent copulatory behavior. Science 190: 947–954.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Dewsbury D. A. 1982. Dominance rank, copulatory behavior and differential reproduction. The Quarterly Review of Biology 57: 135–159.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Dewsbury D. A. and Hartung T. G. 1982. Copulatory behavior of three species ofMicrotus. Journal of Mammalogy 63: 306–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Diakow C. and Dewsbury D. A. 1978. A comparative description of the mating behavior of female rodents. Animal Behavior 26: 1091–1097.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dixson A. F. 1998. Primate sexuality. Oxford University Press, Oxford: 1–546.Google Scholar
  8. Emlen T. and Oring L. W. 1977. Ecology, sexual selection and the evolution of mating systems. Science 197: 215–223.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Fang J. M. and Sun R. Y. 1991. Seasonal change of space pattern of the Brandt’s vole. Acta Ecological Sinica 11(2): 111–116. [In Chinese with English summary]Google Scholar
  10. Fuentes S. M. and Dewsbury D. A. 1984. Copulatory behavior of voles (Microtus montanus andM. ochrogaster) in mutiple-female test situations. Journal of Comparative Psychology 98: 45–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Getz L. L., Carter C. S. and Gavish L. 1981. The mating system of prairie voles,Microtus pennsylvanicus: Field and laboratory evidence for pair bonding. Behavior Ecology and Sociobiology 8: 189–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gray G. D. and Dewsbury D. A. 1975. A quantitive description of copulatory behavior in meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanilus). Animal Behavior 23: 261–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kvarnemo C., Forsgren E. and Magnhagen C. 1995. Effects of sex ratio in intra-and inter-sexual behavior in sand gobies. Animal Behavior 50: 1455–1461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lidicker W. Z. Jr 1980. The social biology of the California vole. Biologist 62: 46–55.Google Scholar
  15. Liu Z., Li Z., Liu L. and Sun R. 1994. Intensity of male reproduction in Brandt’s voleMicrotus brandti. Acta Theriologica 39: 389–397.Google Scholar
  16. Michener G. R. and McLean I. G. 1996. Reproductive behavior and operational sex ratio in Richardson’s ground squirrels. Animal Behavior 52: 743–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Nelson J. 1995. Intrasexual competition and spacing behavior in male field voles,Microtus agrestis, under constant female density and spatial distribution. Oikos 73: 9–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Oring L. W. 1982. Avian mating system. [In: Avian biology. D. S. Famer and J. R. King, eds]. Academic Press, New York: 1–92.Google Scholar
  19. Owens I. P. E., Burk T. and Thompson D. B. A. 1994. Extraordinary sex ratio in the Eurasian dotterel: female mating arenas, female-female competition and female mate voice. The American Naturalist 144: 76–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Parker G. A. and Simmons L. W. 1996. Parental investment and the control of sexual selection: Predicting the direction of sexual competition. Proceedings of Royal Society of London, Ser. B. 263: 315–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Reynolds J. 1996. Animal breeding systems. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11: 68–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Shi D. Z. 1988. A preliminary study on Brandt’s vole distribution region in China and its relation to vegetation and water-temperature conditions. Acta Theriologica Sinica 8(4): 299–306. [In Chinese with English summary]Google Scholar
  23. Shi D. Z., Wan X., Davis S., Pech R. and Zhang Z. 2002. Simulation of lethal and fertility control in a demographic model for Brandt’s voleMicrotus brandti. Journal of Applied Ecology 39: 337–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wan X. R., Zhong W. Q. and Wang M. J. 1998. Ecology and management of the Brandt’s vole. [In: Ecology and management of rodent pests in agriculture. Z. B. Zhang and Z. W. Wang, eds]. Ocean Press, Beijing: 209–220. [In Chinese]Google Scholar
  25. Wang X. G. and Smith A. T. 1989. Studies on the mating system in the plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae). Acta Theriologica Sinica 9(3): 210–215. [In Chinese with English summary]Google Scholar
  26. Wolff J. D. 1985. Behavior. [In: Biology of new worldMicrotus. R. H. Tamarin, ed]. Special Publication of the American Society of Mammalogists, New York: 8: 341–372.Google Scholar
  27. Xie X. M., Sun R. Y. and Fang J. M. 1994. The mating system and reproduction of Brandt’s voles (Microtus brandti). Acta Zoologica Sinica 40(3): 262–265. [In Chinese with English summary]Google Scholar
  28. Zhang Z. 2000. Mathematical models of wildlife management by contraception. Ecological Modeling 132: 105–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zhang J. and Zhong W. Q. 1981. On the colonial structure of Brandt’s vole in burrow units. Acta Theriologica Sinica 1(1): 51–56. [In Chinese with English summary]Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Bialowieza, Poland 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of ScienceBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations