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Male–female interactions and ultrasonic vocalization in three sympatric species of voles during conspecific and heterospecific encounters

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Using ultrasonic vocalization, the present study examined the behaviour of three sympatrically living species of voles: common voles, field voles and bank voles during heterosexual encounters both within and between species. Voles were trapped in south-eastern Poland and their behaviour and vocalization investigated using 10-min open field tests. Conspecific heterosexual pairs of all three species of voles presented high social activity but the kind of behaviour was different. Bank vole male–female interactions were more agonistic than those of common voles and of field voles as seen in the number of aggressive approaches and latency to the first attack. Common voles and field voles emitted significantly more ultrasounds and spent longer time on the production of ultrasonic calls than bank voles. The duration of sounds was similar but the frequency of calls emitted by field voles was higher than those of common voles and bank voles. Voles in heterospecific encounters of male with female showed shorter duration of sniffing and emitted very few ultrasounds. The current work has shown that ultrasounds are part of male–female behaviour in common voles, field voles and bank voles and could play a significant role in vole communication.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, ul. Gronostajowa 7, 30-387 Kraków, Poland;, Email:; 2: Department of Anatomy and Human Sciences, King's College London, Guy's Campus, London SE1 1UE


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