Male and female meadow voles Microtus pennsylvanicus respond differently to scent marks from the top- middle-, and bottom-scent donors of an over-mark

Michael H. Ferkin, Nicholas J. Hobbs, Benjamin D. Ferkin, Adam C. Ferkin, Daniel A. Ferkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that individuals responded preferentially to the mark of the top-scent donor relative to that of the bottom-scent donor of an over-mark. However, terrestrial mammals are likely to encounter over-marks consisting of the scent marks of more than two same-sex conspecifics in the intersections of runways, near the nests of sexually receptive female conspecifics, and inside and along the borders of the territories of conspecifics. We determined how meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, respond to the marks of the top-, middle-, and bottom-scent donors of an over-mark. We tested the hypothesis that voles exposed to an over-mark will respond preferentially to the scent marks that were deposited more recently, the scent marks that were on top or near the top of the over-mark, compared to the scent marks that were deposited earlier or near the bottom of the over-mark. Voles spent more time investigating the mark of the top-scent donor than that of the either the middle- or bottom-scent donor. However, males but not female voles spent more time investigating the middle-scent mark than the bottom- scent mark. We also tested the hypothesis that voles evaluate and respond to over-marks differently from single scent marks. Voles spent more time investigating the marks of the top-, middle-, and bottom-scent donors compared to scent marks that were not part of the over-mark. Voles can distinguish among the overlapping scent marks of three scent donors and sex differences exist in the values they appear to attach to each of these scent marks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-448
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Zoology
Volume57
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

Keywords

  • Olfactory communication
  • Over-marks
  • Scent marks
  • Voles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology

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