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Aspects of Reproduction and Development in the Prairie Vole (Microtus ochrogaster)   By: (1909-2009)

Aspects of Reproduction and Development in the Prairie Vole (Microtus ochrogaster) by Henry S. Fitch

First Page:

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS PUBLICATIONS MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

Volume 10, No. 4, pp. 129 161, 8 figs. in text, 6 tables

December 19, 1957

Aspects of Reproduction and Development in the Prairie Vole (Microtus ochrogaster)

BY HENRY S. FITCH

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS LAWRENCE 1957

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS PUBLICATIONS, MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

Editors: E. Raymond Hall, Chairman, Henry S. Fitch, Harrison B. Tordoff

Volume 10, No. 4, pp. 129 161, 8 figs. in text, 6 tables Published December 19, 1957

UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS Lawrence, Kansas

PRINTED IN THE STATE PRINTING PLANT TOPEKA, KANSAS 1957

[Illustration: Look for the Union label!]

26 7561

Aspects of Reproduction and Development in the Prairie Vole (Microtus ochrogaster)

BY

HENRY S. FITCH

INTRODUCTION

The prairie vole is by far the most abundant mammal on the University of Kansas Natural History Reservation and on grassland areas throughout northeastern Kansas. This vole therefore affects the vegetation, perhaps more than any other native vertebrate, and it is an important food source for most of the vertebrate predators. Since the Reservation was established, in 1948, more data have been accumulated concerning this vole than for any other species of animal there. From February, 1950, to February, 1954, a grid of live traps at 50 foot intervals was set for several days each month in a three acre field inhabited by voles, and the population of marked individuals was studied throughout the four year period. From November, 1953, to June, 1956, a half acre trap grid with 20 foot interval was used on an area adjoining the three acre field. Other trap lines in somewhat different habitats were maintained for shorter periods as a basis for comparison. By June, 1956, a total of some 3550 voles had been caught and recorded 14,750 times in all. The present report is a preliminary attempt to analyze, in part, these extensive data, and is concerned with certain phases of the species' reproduction and growth that have bearing on the observed population changes from month to month and from year to year on the Reservation.

Through the studies of Jameson (1947) and Martin (1956), both made in the same general area as my own, and several earlier studies, the life history and ecology of the prairie vole are already well known. The present report, with much larger amounts of data, further clarifies certain phases of the ecology; and by using types of data not available to Jameson and Martin I have dealt with some topics not included in their reports.

Previous studies of growth in Microtus have been based almost entirely on weights. However, the weight of an individual vole may fluctuate widely over a short period, depending on pregnancy and parturition, length of time in a trap without food, availability of moisture, and other factors. In the course of my study, in 1954 and 1955, and parts of 1953 and 1956, measurements of total length, in addition to weights, were recorded for most of the voles live trapped.

To test the accuracy of measurements, successive readings were compared in individual voles that were already of large adult size and that presumably either had stopped growing or were growing so slowly that the gain was scarcely detectable in the relatively short periods involved. For 200 such readings 33 per cent were just the same as previous records for the same animals, 24 per cent deviated by 1 mm., 22 per cent deviated by 2 mm., 15 per cent by 3 mm., 4.5 per cent by 4 mm., .5 per cent by 5 mm., 1 per cent by 6 mm., and .5 per cent by 7 mm. On the average, successive measurements varied by 1.43 mm., somewhat less than one per cent of the adult vole's total length. Occasional errors of two to four per cent were easily eliminated because for the voles used for growth records, series of measurements were available, with clearly defined trends... Continue reading book >>




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