Female prairie vole mate-choice is affected by the males' birth litter composition

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Abstract

Experimental testing and retrospective examination of breeding records were used to examine the influence of sex composition and/or size of males' birth litters on female mate-choice. Sexually naïve female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) avoided males derived from all-male litters, but showed no preference for, or aversion to, males from single-male litters or from more typical mixed-sex litters. Examination of the pregnancy status of females after two weeks of pairing with a male allowed us to estimate the probabilites of a pups' intrauterine position relative to siblings for various litter sizes. The typical prairie vole pup derived from a mixed-sex litter comprised of 4.4 pups, and had a 13% chance of being isolated from siblings in utero and a 22% chance of being between siblings in utero. Pups from single-sex litters tended to be larger at weaning than did pups from mixed-sex litters; however, male size did not influence female choice behavior. These results suggest that some aspect of the perinatal experience of prairie vole pups from single sex litters can influence social interactions later in life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Volume101
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2010

Keywords

  • Gonadal steroids
  • Intrauterine position
  • Microtus
  • Perinatal development

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