Does paedomorphosis contribute to prairie vole monogamy?

Timothy Bushyhead, J. Thomas-Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We examined skull morphology in prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster)and meadow voles (M. pennsylvanicus), two closely related species with fundamentally different mating systems, to test the hypothesis that paedomorphosis contributes to the evolution of monogamous mating systems. Using several skull measurements, we found that the overall length: width ratio of meadow vole skulls was greater than that of prairie voles suggesting that meadow vole have longer narrower skulls. We then examined which aspects of skull morphology differed between the species and found that the ratio difference was attributable primarily to longer snout length in meadow voles. Finally, we compared adult morphology in both species to that of pups and found the prairie vole, a monogamous species, displays a more juvenile-like skull morphology than does the meadow vole, a promiscuous species. These results suggest that monogamous vole species retain more juvenile-like morphology than do promiscuous species, and thus possibly retain juvenile-like behaviors that may contribute to a monogamous mating system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalActa Theriologica Sinica
Volume34
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2014

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Keywords

  • Meadow voles (M. pennsylvanicus)
  • Monogamy
  • Paedomorphosis
  • Prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster)
  • Skull morphology

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