, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 1-7
Date: 07 Aug 2004

Meadow voles and prairie voles differ in the percentage of conspecific marks they over-mark

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Abstract

Many terrestrial mammals scent mark in areas containing the scent marks of conspecifics, and thus, may deposit their own scent marks on top of those that were deposited previously by conspecifics. This phenomenon, known as over-marking appears to play a role in same-sex competition or mate attraction. The present study determines whether meadow and prairie voles avoid over-marking the scent marks of conspecifics, target the scent marks of conspecifics and over-mark them, or randomly over-mark the scent marks of conspecifics. The data show that meadow and prairie voles adjust the number and location of scent marks that they deposit in areas marked previously by particular conspecifics. Male and female meadow and prairie voles target the scent marks of opposite-sex conspecifics and over-mark them. Female meadow and prairie voles also target the scent marks of female conspecifics. In contrast, male meadow and prairie voles over-mark the scent marks of male conspecifics in a random manner. By differentially over-marking the scent marks of conspecifics, voles may be able to communicate particular information to a variety of conspecifics.

Communicated by K. Kotrschal