Pair Bonding Impacts Socio-spatial Recognition in Male Prairie Voles
Santiago A. Forero1, Loma Pendergraft2, Nicole S. Lee3, Marissa A. Rice1, Alexander G. Ophir1. 1Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States; 2University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States; 3University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, United States

Conspecific recognition is especially important for species like the socially monogamous prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster) because it informs reproductive decision-making. Single and paired males show context-dependent discrimination, suggesting social recognition may be important during territory defense or mate guarding associated with bonded males. Yet, identifying conspecifics that represent risks to paternity are often distributed in space and time. We tested the hypothesis that paired and single male voles differentially discriminate among other males by assessing social discrimination ability in the context of space over repeated measures (once a week for three weeks). Our results show that all males spent more time with novel conspecifics in novel locations. However, post-hoc tests revealed that bonded males consistently show significant discrimination of novel from familiar males; single males did not in two of the three weeks tested. We believe differences in relative strength of socio-spatial recognition indicates that discriminating who and where threats may be found is particularly relevant for paired males because of possible costs to reproductive success.