How Do Infanticidal Male Bank Voles (Myodes glareolus) Find the Nest with Pups?
Ylönen, H., Kasi, M., Opperbeck, A., Haapakoski, M., & Sundell, J. (2017). How Do Infanticidal Male Bank Voles (Myodes glareolus) Find the Nest with Pups?. Ethology, 123 (2), 105-112. doi:10.1111/eth.12579
DisciplineEkologia ja evoluutiobiologia
© 2016 Blackwell Verlag GmbH. This is a final draft version of an article whose final and definitive form has been published by Wiley. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
Infanticide, the killing of conspecific young, occurs in most mammal species, like in our study species, the bank vole (Myodes glareolus). Infanticide by adult males is regarded as a strong factor affecting recruitment of young into population. It is considered as an adaptive behaviour, which may increase male fitness via resource gain or an increased access to mates. When an intruder is approaching the nest, the mother should not be present, as her nest guarding is very aggressive and successful. Pups use ultrasonic vocalisation to call their mother when mother leaves nest for foraging but it is not know which cues do infanticidal males use to find the nest with vulnerable pups to commit infanticide? We studied whether the pups' sounds or the olfactory cues of the nest guide the males of known infanticidal behavioural trait towards the nest with vulnerable pups. Four nest boxes in a large indoor arena offered different nesting cues: nest odour, pup vocalisation, both odour and sound or control with no cue. The result showed that infanticidal males were more active in their searching behaviour than non-infanticidal males and seemed to target the nest providing only acoustic cues. Four of the males, all infanticidal, intruded the nest box. Infanticidal males seem to actively search for nests with vulnerable pups by eavesdropping pup begging calls for absent mother. However, under natural conditions, mother presence and aggressive nest protection may be an effective counter strategy against strange male infanticide. When trapping study voles from the wild, we monitored occurrence of male infanticide across the breeding season from early to late summer. Proportion of infanticidal males was between 25 and 29% of all males tested along the breeding season. Our results suggest that male infanticide seems to cause a stable threat for pup mortality in increasing breeding season density. ...