Social behavior of the prairie vole, Microtus ochrogaster, including monogamy, mate guarding, philopatry communal nesting, and territoriality, evolved as. an adaptation to habitats with low food prevalent in the original range of the species. These behaviors are associated with low population densities and low amplitudes of fluctuation characteristic of low food habitats. In particular, reproductive activation of philopatric females by unfamiliar males is prevented owing to mate guarding and territorial defense. The basic social organization remains the same when populations occupy habitats with high food. However, in high food habitats mate guarding and territorial defense become less effective, resulting in reproductive activation of most philopatric females within communal groups. This contributes to the high population densities and amplitudes of fluctuation recorded from high food habitats
Social behavior, reproduction and demography of the prairie vole, Microtus ochrogaster
Getz, LL., McGuire, B., & Carter Porges, C. (2003). Social behavior, reproduction and demography of the prairie vole, Microtus ochrogaster. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 15(2), 105-118.