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Heterozygosity, Aggression, and Population Fluctuations in Meadow Voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus)

Rudy Boonstra, Wesley M. Hochachka and Leo Pavone
Evolution
Vol. 48, No. 4 (Aug., 1994), pp. 1350-1363
DOI: 10.2307/2410391
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410391
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Heterozygosity, Aggression, and Population Fluctuations in Meadow Voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus)
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Abstract

We tested whether variation in heterozygosity could produce cyclic changes in population size in meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus). For this to occur, three conditions must be met: (1) populations are more outbred (heterozygotic) at high than low population density, (2) heterozygotic voles are more aggressive than relatively inbred individuals, and (3) heterozygotic voles have lower reproductive fitness, though being superior at defending resources. We found no evidence that heterozygosity varied with population size or that reproductive success varied with heterozygosity. However, the former test was indirect and relatively weak. We directly measured aggression and heterozygosity of individual voles. Aggression was significantly related to heterozygosity: higher heterozygosity correlated with more aggression in males and less aggression in females. The proportion of variance in aggression that could be explained by heterozygosity was small. These results suggest that changes in population size of meadow voles could not be driven by systematic changes in heterozygosity with population size.

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