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How both macho and meek persist

Vole study shows one way that evolution preserves diversity

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2:35pm, November 17, 2011

Small rodents called voles have their own battles of the sexes over macho traits. And it turns out that dominant voles don’t always come out on top, which may explain one way a species maintains genetic diversity.

Among European rodents called bank voles (Myodes glareolus), dominant males readily trounce meeker ones in disputes over rights to court females, explains Mikael Mokkonen of the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. But the genetic mix underlying these supercharged males doesn’t work well when females inherit it. Sisters of the truculent top voles tend to have small litters of pups, he and his colleagues confirm in the Nov. 18 Science.

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