Wednesday, August 9, 5:00-6:30 pm
Poster Session 13 - Animal ecology: mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles
Exhibit Hall, Ballroom Level, Cook Convention Center

Meadow voles may have the capacity for episodic-like memory.

Combs, Amy *,1, Pierce, Andrew1, delBarco Trillo, Javier1, Ferkin, Micheal1, 1 University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA

ABSTRACT- Episodic memory involves the ability to recall the what, where, and when of a single past event. Although episodic memory is found in humans, recent work suggests that animals may also possess episodic-like memory. We tested the hypothesis that male meadow voles, Microtus pennsylvanicus, posses the capacity for episodic-like memory with relation to mate selection in two experiments. In the first experiment, male voles were allowed to explore an arena that contained two chambers. One chamber contained a pregnant female (24 h prepartum). The other chamber contained a sexually mature female that was neither pregnant nor lactating, a reference female (REF). Twenty-four hours after the exposure, the males were placed in the same arena, which was empty and clean. At this time, the pregnant female would have delivered her pups and entered postpartum estrus (PPE); PPE females are more attractive to males and mate more readily as compared to REF. Males spent significantly more time investigating the chamber that originally housed the pregnant female (now a PPE female) than the chamber that originally housed the REF female. The second experiment was similar to the first, except that males explored an arena, that contained a chamber with a PPE female and the other chamber contained a REF female. Twenty-four hours later the PPE females were no longer in postpartum estrus, and the males were placed into the same but empty arena. Lactating females and REF females are similar to one another in the readiness to mate with males. These results suggest that male meadow voles have a capacity for episodic-like memory. For male voles, an episodic-like memory for the reproductive condition of females may allow them to remember the location of females in heightened states of sexual receptivity.

Key words: epsiodic-like memory, mate selection

All materials copyright The Ecological Society of America (ESA), and may not be used without written permission.