Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract We intensively monitored space use and movement in Microtus californicus over a 2-year period that included 1 year of high density (maximum 618/ha) and one of low (minimum 5/ha); historically this population has exhibited cycles of 2 or 4 years. Adults of both sexes dispersed at the start of the breeding season, culminating in the establishment of intrasexually exclusive territories. In females, these territories persisted throughout life, except that many young females recruiting during the breeding season established contiguous, overlapping, or adjacent home ranges with their mothers. This female philopatry explains the conclusion of previous workers that females of this species are non-territorial. In the dry (non-breeding) season, females had smaller ranges that often overlapped and were clustered. Adult males moved breeding territories at a modal interval of 6 weeks; this is consistent with their avoidance of inbreeding with philopatric daughters. Ranges overlapped 1–4 adult females at any one time, and a cohort of 7 long-lived males overlapped an average of 16.4 females during their tenure on the grid. The period of maximum overlap with adult females varied among individual males, and did not correlate with the time of maximum body weight. Ranges of males in the dry season overlapped extensively, with persistent associations among some individuals. In the lowdensity year, ranges of some adults failed to overlap intersexually. Juvenile males dispersed gradually between 3 and 13 weeks of age (half before 9 weeks), with some leaving after reaching sexual maturity; a few remained philopatric. Of juvenile females, 47% remained philopatric with the rest disappearing before 9 weeks of age. New understanding of vole social behavior, dispersal, and space use is achieved by focusing on the seasonal dynamics of spatial relationships among individuals with respect to age, sex, and relatedness.
Type of Medium: