7.5 Wednesday, Jan. 4 Reproductive state of female voles affects males’ responses to same- and mixed-sex over-marks HOBBS, N.J.*; FERKIN, M.H.; University of Memphis; University of Memphis email@example.com
Many mammals use scent marks and over-marks to signal their condition and willingness to mate with conspecifics. Animals may encounter over-marks in which the scent donors are the same sex (same-sex over-marks) or the scent donors differ in sex (mixed-sex over-marks). During the breeding season, the condition of female meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, may vary. Females may be in a heightened state of receptivity known as postpartum estrus (PPE). Alternatively, females that are neither pregnant nor lactating may be in a more moderate state of sexual receptivity (REF females). We conducted three experiments that determined whether males exposed to over-marks containing the scent marks of PPE and REF females respond preferentially to females based on either the position of their scent mark in the over-mark or their reproductive state. In experiment 1, we tested the hypothesis that how males respond to the two female scent donors of a same-sex over-mark is affected by the females’ reproductive states. Experiments 2 and 3 tested the hypothesis that the reproductive state of a female in a mixed-sex over-mark affects how males respond to her scent mark relative to that of a novel female. Our results suggest that males use both the position of a female’s scent mark as well as her reproductive state when evaluating the scent donors of same- and mixed-sex over-marks as potential mates.