CZAAWE Resource Article

Social and Environmental Factors Influence the Suppression of Pup-Directed Aggression and Development of Paternal Behavior in Captive Meadow Voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus)
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
Journal of Comparative Psychology
During summer, female meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) maintain territories and males do not engage in paternal care. As day length shortens, territories dissolve and males nest with females and young. Because paternal behavior has never been studied in free-living meadow voles during colder months or in the laboratory under short photoperiods, the authors examined whether males housed in short day (SD) lengths exhibited more frequent or better quality paternal behavior than males housed in long day (LD) lengths. Sexually and parentally inexperienced (naive) SD males exhibited proportionally more and qualitatively better paternal care than naive LD males. SD males were more responsive than LD males to classic social cues associated with prepartum aggression inhibition and paternal onset. SD sires also displayed qualitatively better paternal behavior than LD sires. These data suggest that meadow vole paternal state is regulated by specific social and environmental cues that may contain reliable information about ecological conditions that favor paternal care