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Adult-Weanling Recognition Among Captive Meadow Voles (Microtus Pennsylvanicus)

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image of Behaviour

Dyadic encounters and odour preference tests were carried out to determine the behavioural mechanisms mediating weanling-adult interactions in meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus. Encounters between weanlings and the adult(s) which they were reared contained few agonistic behaviours. Encounters between weanlings and an unfamiliar adult, independently of genetic relatedness, contained many agonistic acts. Encounters involving female weanlings were less agonistic than encounters involving male weanlings. Wcanlings often preferred the odour of adults with whom they would have an amicable encounter, whereas weanlings avoided the odour of adults with whom they would have an agonistic encounter. However, female weanlings preferred the odour of their RA father to the odour of other adult males. Adults could not recognize their own offspring if they were reared apart. Social recognition was based on familiarity by association rather than phenotype-matching. The data suggest that adult agonism toward weanlings may be a behavioural mechanism regulating sex-biased dispersal patterns.

Affiliations: 1: Biology Department, Boston University, Boston, MA, 02215 U.S.A.


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