Acta Biologica Hungarica

, Volume 54, Issue 3–4, pp 263–273 | Cite as

Size of the Vomeronasal Organ in Wild Microtus with Different Mating Strategies

  • Lisette M. MaicoEmail author
  • Annie M. Burrows
  • M. P. Mooney
  • M. I. Siegel
  • K. P. Bhatnagar
  • T. D. Smith


Most studies on mammalian vomeronasal organ (VNO) have been on laboratory-bred animals. Our present study examines the VNO in wild-caught meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus; n=16) and prairie voles (M. ochrogaster; n=15). These species vary in their mating strategies and degree of parental care by males. M. ochrogaster exhibits pair bonding and more paternal care compared to M. pennsylvanicus, a promiscuous species. We hypothesize that sexual dimorphism will occur in the promiscuous species based on previous studies which suggest that those who exhibit more aggressive or masculine behavior have larger VNOs. Our results support our original finding that VNOs are not different in size in wild Microtus spp. that vary in male parental tendencies. However, the present study also indicates that M. pennsylvanicus, the species exhibiting more disparate parental tendencies, exhibited larger VNOs in females than males. This is the reverse of previous findings on rats, and we hypothesize that this difference may be due to mate selectivity and/or maternal aggression.


Mate selectivity vomeronasal neuroepithelium chemosensory 


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This study was funded by a grant from the State System of Higher Education of Pennsylvania. We are grateful to S. J. C. Gaulin for his loan of live traps and S. B. McLaren for help in selecting trapping sites. We would also like to thank Dana L. Roslinski for her work in sectioning and staining tissues. Our gratitude also extends to Kong Tan for his input and assistance during editing.


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2003

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisette M. Maico
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Annie M. Burrows
    • 3
    • 4
  • M. P. Mooney
    • 3
    • 5
  • M. I. Siegel
    • 3
  • K. P. Bhatnagar
    • 6
    • 7
  • T. D. Smith
    • 2
    • 3
    • 7
  1. 1.Rehab Department, SouthlandNorwalkUSA
  2. 2.School of Physical TherapySlippery Rock UniversitySlippery RockUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Department of Physical TherapyDuquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA
  5. 5.Department of Oral Medicine and PathologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  6. 6.Department of Anatomical Sciences and NeurobiologyUniversity of Louisville, School of MedicineLouisvilleUSA
  7. 7.Section of MammalsCarnegie Museum of Natural HistoryPittsburghUSA

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