Two field-vole species, which are outwardly indistinguishable, behave differently towards human beings. Results of experiments carried out by the specialists of the Institute of Ecology and Evolution Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Lomonosov Moscow State University connect these differences with the exploratory behavior of field-voles. Timorous and incurious common voles (Microtus arvalis) prefers country life, and inquisitive European ground voles (Arvicola terrestris) readily move into human lodgings.
To investigate field-voles’ behavior, the researchers constructed a case (its side being equal to 4 meters) imitating a living room. There was a can, a bottle, small boxes, shoes, a shelter, feeding-racks and a drinking bowl, a tray with a flower, chairs, suitcase, a camp-bed with a pillow and a bedside-table in it. The field-voles involed in the experiment were born in captivity. Their belonging to a certain species was confirmed with the help of haemoglobin analysis. The small animals were carried into the room in the shelter, which previously used to stand in its dwelling cage, and were observed for two hours after the animal had left the shelter.
This observational study found that the common voles dislike and are afraid of new things. The level of investigation activity of the European ground voles is higher than that of their twin-species and is more intelligent. Such a strategy, of investigating unfamiliar space, allowed them to accomodate themselves to life near to human beings and to settle in town and in the country. They willingly feel at home in unknown closed premises, including human houses where they wait through winter cold weather. Therefore, the researchers consider the European ground vole to be a synanthropic species, and the common vole – rather wild species.
Sergey Komarov | alfa
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