Natal philopatry and breeding systems in voles ( Microtus spp.).

R. Boonstra, C. J. Krebs, M. S. Gaines, M. L. Johnson, I. T.M. Craine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


In all 5 species, similar or larger proportions of males than females remained near the natal site as immature animals and both sexes moved similar distances from the natal site if they remained immature. In the mainland species of voles - M. californicus, M. ochrogaster, M. pennsylvanicus, M. townsendii - about twice as many females as males matured near their natal site regardless of whether the mating system was monogamous or polygynous, suggesting that females in both monogamous and polygynous species primarily compete for resources, and males compete for access to females. In the island species, M. breweri, and in enclosed populations (some with and some without an opportunity to disperse) of M. ochrogaster, M. pennsylvanicus and M. townsendii, similar proportions of males and females remained near the natal site as mature animals. Thus preventing or reducing dispersal eliminated the bias towards female philopatry. Nevertheless, in all of these species, mature males still moved about twice as far from the natal sites as females. Males in polygynous species from control populations, if they did mature within the population, tended to move farther from the natal site than females; males in the one monogamous species showed no such difference. Thus, though male-male competition may be a primary cause of male dispersal, inbreeding avoidance may be a secondary cause. The basic social organization in females (all species) is probably based on female kin cluster. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-673
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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