Voles, a species of rodents, which an be found all across the Midwestern part of the United States, have been the subject of a fascinating neuroscientific study. The scientists who have conducted this study have arrived at the conclusion that some voles display polygamous characteristics.
One is inclined to say that this aspect is hardly surprising, considering that many species of animals display polygamous behavior. But, by closely studying the mice’s behavioral patterns we would see that this can be construed as an atypical behavior.
According to several scientific studies, voles are mostly monogamous, meaning that they will choose a mate for life. In fact, several field studies have uncovered that, in most cases, the tiny rodent never leaves his other half’s side and basically involves her in all activities
But, it would seem that Nature always finds a way to temper with someone’s wires. According to the group of scientists from the University of Texas, there have been certain instances where the males would cast aside their inhibitions concerning family life and would go out to seek other possible mates.
The team of scientists, intrigued by this variation in the behavioral patterns, sought out to find what drives a mouse to cheat on his significant other. So, by doing additional research, the team discovered that the problem lies with the vole’s genetical build-up.
The team theorized that this behavioral deviance it somehow linked to a genetic difference between certain members from the same family. Moreover, it would seem that, in nature, each vole can be capable of displaying either monogamous or polygamous characteristics.
It is the general belief that natural selection is capable of minimizing if not wiping out certain genetic variations. However, there are some cases in which genetics speaks much louder than natural selection. Thus, a male member of the species is inclined to take more than one mate in order to ensure that the genetical material is not altogether lost.
But, more mates usually entails more roaming. In almost all cases, the males which display characteristics would fail to keep track of its mate. Thus, his significant other would be free so mate with whoever she wants.
Lab studies performed on a couple of voles revealed that spatial memory is very important in the case of roaming males. Apart from letting him keep track of his significant other, the spatial memory may also aid him in remembering the spots where he encountered other males with similar behavior, thus keeping the sparring rate to a minimum.