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