What really changes when a male vole settles down | Science News

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What really changes when a male vole settles down

Bachelors can’t tell one female from another

By
3:28pm, October 5, 2015
prairie voles

PAIR-BOND  Just 24 hours in each other's company without mating can be enough to bond a pair of prairie voles for life.

Bachelor prairie voles can’t tell females of their species apart. Yet the clueless fellows can change, forming pair-bonds for life with the opposite sex and even distinguishing between two female strangers. 

Bachelors aren’t blind or stupid; they recognize individual males among their fellow short-tailed Microtus ochrogaster rodents scurrying through old fields in the center of North America.

And males are certainly interested in the interchangeable females. In lab tests, bachelors claw and bite at cage dividers between the sexes, says Alexander Ophir of Cornell University.

Conquering the divide and mating with a female after just six hours of her company can form a lifelong pair-bond between voles. Only about 5 percent of mammal species live this socially monogamous lifestyle, and the voles have played starring roles in studies of the neurobiology of bonding. (Social monogamists, including both voles and some Homo sapiens, don

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