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The amount of time that a meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus, self-grooms is affected by its reproductive state and that of the odor donor.

Department of Biology, Ellington Hall, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152, USA. <>
Behavioural Processes (Impact Factor: 1.46). 12/2006; 73(3):266-71. DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2006.06.005
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Many hypotheses have been put forth to account for differences in the amount of time that animals engage self-grooming when exposed to conspecifics or their odors, but most ignore the possibility that self-grooming may be associated with olfactory communication between groomers and conspecifics. As yet, we do not know the function of self-grooming and why animals do so when they encounter the odors of conspecifics. The present experiment tests the hypothesis that the amount of time that a meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus, self-grooms is affected by the reproductive state of the odor donor and its own reproductive state. The findings support the hypothesis. Male voles spent more time self-grooming when they were exposed to bedding scented by female voles in postpartum estrus (PPE) compared to that of female voles in other reproductive states and female mice. PPE female voles spent more time self-grooming when they were exposed to bedding scented by testosterone-treated male voles than either to that of gonadectomized male voles and male mice. PPE female voles spent more time than OVX+E and more time than OVX females self-grooming when they were exposed to bedding scented by testosterone-treated male voles. GX+T male voles spent more time than GX male voles self-grooming when they were exposed to bedding scented by PPE female voles. The results suggest that individuals self-groom more in the presence of an odor of a highly receptive potential mate than that of a less receptive mate.

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