Microtus ochrogaster (Prairie Vole) males typically display robust preferences for affiliation with their respective mates that indicate the expression of a pair bond. However, it recently has been shown that the strength of a male vole's pair bond can differ depending on the reproductive status of his mate. In the present study, we examined the possibility that female-controlled pacing of the mating sequence could alter males' affiliative behaviors in a partner-preference test by affecting reproductive success. We expected that an earlier onset of mating and pregnancy would occur if females controlled the pace of mating, which in turn, would reinforce males' preference for their familiar mates vs. for a stranger. We found that female pacing did not affect latency to mating, mating duration, or any of the other measures of social or mating behaviors we measured. Further, female-paced mating did not alter reproductive success as indicated by litter size. We conclude that female-paced mating in Prairie Voles does not impact the formation, consolidation, and/or expression of a pair bond, either directly or indirectly, by their male partners.
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Vol. 22 • No. 3