Patterns of Behavior During Postpartum Estrus in Prairie Voles, Microtus-Ochrogaster
Social and sexual behaviour during postpartum oestrus in prairie voles was monitored using time-lapse videotaping over a period of at least 24h. Behaviour was measured as a function of the familiarity and social history of the male partner and as a function of the presence or absence of pups. In general, postpartum oestrus was shorter than male-induced oestrus. When pups remained with the pair, the duration and frequencies of copulatory interactions were further reduced. In familiar pairs mountlordosis bouts were more frequent, and durations of male autogrooming and side-by-side contact were longer than in unfamiliar pairs. All pairs successfully reproduced and litter size among groups was similar, even then the frequency of sexual activities was very low. These results suggest that in monogamous species, such as prairie voles, the social history of the pair was well as female reproductive status are strong determinants of sexual and social interactions that occur during postpartum oestrus.