Physiology & Behavior
Adult meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) are solitary in the spring–summer reproductive season, but during winter months, females and males are socially tolerant and aggregate in groups. This behavioral difference is triggered by day length: female meadow voles housed in short, winterlike day lengths form same-sex partner preferences, whereas those housed in long, summer-like day lengths are less social. The present study demonstrates that same-sex social attachments in short day lengths are not exclusive; females formed concurrent attachments with more than one individual, and with non-kin as well as siblings. Partner preferences between females were established within one day of cohousing and did not intensify with greater durations of cohabitation. Males also formed same-sex social attachments, but unlike female affiliative behavior, male partner preferences were not significantly affected by day length. These data are discussed in the context of field behavior and the physiological mechanisms supporting social behavior in voles.
social behavior, partner preference, prosocial, sex differences, day length, affiliation, group-living, rodent
© the authors
Beery, Annaliese K.; Routman, David M.; and Zucker, Irving, "Same-Sex Social Behavior in Meadow Voles: Multiple and Rapid Formation of Attachments" (2009). Neuroscience: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.