Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 65-71

First online:

Space use and social structure in meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus

  • Dale M. MadisonAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, State University of New York at Binghamton

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Free-ranging, sexually mature meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) were tracked by using radiotelemetry from June through August in Front Royal, Virginia, U.S.A. Estimates of intraspecific spacing were derived from the concurrent movements of up to 16 voles. Positions were recorded hourly for 24 h, twice per week. A total of 16 male and 15 female voles were studied during sixteen 24-h sessions.

The daily ranges of males (192.3±109.7 m2) were larger and more variable than those of females (68.6±39.4 m2). Males also changed locations more frequently (Fig. 2).

Adult females usually maintained territories free of other females; males overlapped considerably among themselves (Fig. 2). Males temporarily moved into the areas occupied by estrous females, indicating intrasexual competition among males for access to receptive females (Fig. 3).

M. pennsylvanicus appears to be promiscuous, is socially organized into territorial, maternal-young units during the breeding season, and fits the female territorial model of population regulation.