Intraspecific variation in social organization of prairie voles, Microtus ochrogaster

CEES Extra seminar by Nancy G. Solomon



Intraspecific variability in social organization is more common than had originally been realized. For example, prairie voles, Microtus ochrogaster, were considered to be a model of monogamy. In reality, prairie voles display interpopulation and intrapopulation variability in terms of their living situation. Male and female prairie voles can be residents at a nest by themselves, with an opposite-sex conspecific, or with at least three adults (group). All of these social units may contain offspring or not. In addition, males, primarily, may be classified as wanderers that visit multiple nests. We also found that males and females may or may not display genetic monogamy. We studied prairie voles, Microtus ochrogaster, in natural and semi-natural populations to examine environmental and demographic factors that influence this variability and it’s consequences. We conducted parentage analyses to estimate the number of mates and reproductive success. I will present results of our studies focusing primarily on intraspecific variability in male prairie voles. The results of our studies showed that different factors affected different aspects of prairie vole social organization and have consequences on male reproductive success.

Nancy G. Solomon
Director of the Center for Animal Behavior
Department of Zoology
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio, U.S.A. 45056

Published Feb. 6, 2012 12:35 PM