Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Proceedings of the Fifth Eastern Pine and Meadow Vole Symposium, Gettysburg, PA, March 4–5, 1981, Ross E. Byers, editor. Copyright © 1981 Brooks and Webster.


Activity and social behavior of free-ranging meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) were examined in summer, fall, and winter using capture-recapture and radiotelemetry. The composition of our study population changed from predominantly reproductively-active (RA) voles in summer and fall to entirely non-reproductively-active (NR) voles in winter. RA males had larger activity areas than RA females. Activity areas of RA females did not overlap with those of other RA females, but activity areas of RA males overlapped extensively with those of both RA males and RA females. However, any contact among RA voles was rare, unless females were estrous. NR voles showed greater overlap of activity areas and lower levels of activity than did RA voles. Space use and activity were similar for NR males and females and their activity underwent little seasonal change. In winter, voles shared nests. There were few differences in activity between day and night or between crepuscular periods an the rest of the day. There was some synchrony in winter. Activity patterns among voles, especially within groups sharing nests in winter. Activity patterns of RA males and RA females were out of phase with each other. The general shift from primarily solitary behavior in summer to increased social tolerance and nest sharing winter is a least partially explained by the corresponding seasonal change in sexual status of the population.