Movement of Meadow Voles in Response to Food and Density Manipulations: A Test of the Food-Defense and Pup-Defense Hypotheses

G. M. Fortier, R. H. Tamarin
1998 Journal of Mammalogy  
The space-use patterns of female voles are believed widely to be driven by food availability. whereas male voles respond primarily to availability of receptive females. Alternatively. female voles may maintain exclusive territories to prevent infanticide. We manipulated population densities and levels of food availability in replicate populations of the meadow vole, Microtus pennsylvanicus, to determine the impact of each on movement distances. Sex differences occurred in the responses of voles
more » ... responses of voles to food and density treatments. Adult male voles responded to food supplementation by decreasing movement distances. irrespective of density. Adult female voles only contracted movement distances under high densities. Male voles may respond to changes in food availability when female voles are dispersed widely and do not constitute a defensible resource. Female voles may retain fairly constant home ranges in the face of increased food availability to prevent infanticide. Our data suggest that habitat characteristics are important in the spacing behavior of male voles and food abundance is not the primary determinant of the spacing behavior of female voles.
doi:10.2307/1382870 fatcat:wfaszsfg2bhzbl3hmmfbolvpxy