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Chemical signals involved in spacing behavior of breeding female bank voles


, : Chemical signals involved in spacing behavior of breeding female bank voles. Journal of Chemical Ecology 20(3): 803-813

In order to study the mechanism involved in the seasonal territoriality of breeding bank voles, the social behavior and scent marking of paired females were observed throughout a reproductive cycle. Initially unfamiliar females were kept in large laboratory pens provided with individual burrows. After a brief period of hostility, females behaved in a friendly manner towards each other, sharing the same nest even in the presence of a male and until the middle of pregnancy. They scarcely marked with urine. Continuous olfactory assessment appeared to play an important role in maintaining the friendly interactions. In late pregnant and lactating females, on the contrary, the odor of a familiar female triggered aggressiveness and scent marking with urine and probably with flank glands. These reactions may be interpreted as spacing behavior. Moreover, the interaction between females may inhibit reproduction in one of them. These results are discussed in relation with the available ecological data.

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