Aggression and vocalization behaviour of three sympatric vole species during conspecific and heterospecific same-sex encounters

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The purpose of the present study was to compare the behaviour with vocalization of three sympatric species of voles during encounters within a species and during interactions between particular pairs of species. Bank voles, common voles and field voles were trapped in south-eastern Poland and their behaviour and vocalization investigated using 10-min open field tests. Results showed clear differences in behaviour and vocalization between the species of voles. Bank vole interactions were more agonistic than those of common voles and of field voles as seen in the number of attacks, latency to the first attack and duration of attack. Females of the latter two species emitted significantly more ultrasounds than female bank voles. During male encounters common voles produced the highest numbers of ultrasounds. The ultrasonic calls emitted by female and male field voles occurred at a higher frequency (kHz) than those of both bank voles and common voles. The duration of these sounds was similar for all three species of voles. Voles in heterospecific encounters emitted very few ultrasounds. Our results have shown that ultrasounds are a part of bank vole, common vole and field vole behaviour and could play a significant role in vole communication.

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