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We tested whether continuous cohabitation in monogamous voles affects the mated male’s attentiveness to his breeding partner versus another female. Each male was housed in a 3-chamber apparatus with a Focal female (FF) and a Control female (CF) for 13 days then placed in a T-maze to assess his attentiveness to and memory of those females. The Distal male remained physically separated from both females, but received their distal cues. The Separate male cohabited with the FF for 3 days then remained physically separated from both females. The Disrupt male’s continuous cohabitation with the FF was disrupted by having him physically separated from her after 10 days and placed with the CF for the last 3 days. The Continuous male cohabited continuously with the FF for 13 days. With females in the T-maze, the Separate and Disrupt males spent more time near the FF’s box and the Disrupt males spent more time manipulating the FF’s box than the CF’s box. The Separate males groomed themselves more when near the FF’s box than the CF’s box. The Distal and Continuous males’ attentiveness to the two females did not differ. Results suggest that physical distance from the partner may reduce male’s attentiveness toward other potential mates. Prairie voles might be similar to socially monogamous primates in using tactile cues as a signal for maintaining their social bonds.


This article was originally published in Current Zoology, available at doi: 10.1093/cz/zow087.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (CC-BY-NC 4.0)



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