Aspects of Reproduction and Development in the Prairie Vole

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

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.

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