Male Stimuli Are Necessary for Female Sexual-Behavior and Uterine Growth in Prairie Voles (Microtus-Ochrogaster)
In reproductively naive female prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) direct contact with male urine or housing in a male-soiled cage, in the absence of physical contact, resulted in increased uterine weights, but did not reliably elicit behavioral estrus (defined by lordosis). Physical contact with an unfamiliar male, for 1 hr or more, followed by 30 or 48 hr of continuous access to a male-soiled cage, induced lordosis in approximately two-thirds of the females tested. When females were physically exposed to a male for 18 hr and tested 6 hr later, 70% showed lordosis. However, when females receiving either 1 or 18 hr of male contact were removed from the presence of the male and placed in a clean cage for 24 hr, only 29–37% of the females subsequently showed lordosis. These results suggest that direct physical contact with the male or chemical stimuli from the male may be necessary to induce and maintain behavioral estrus in female prairie voles.