Targets and tactics of agonistic and precopulatory behavior in montane and prairie voles: Their relationship to juvenile play fighting

play fighting by juvenile montane and prairie voles involves attack and defense of the head, neck and shoulders. Since during play animals typically borrow behavior patterns from other functional contexts, two adult behavioral contexts were compared to juvenile play fighting. These were serious fighting and sexual encounters. During serious fighting in a resident?intruder paradigm, most bites are directed at the rump and lower flanks. During sexual encounters, especially in precopulatory behavior, the head, neck and shoulders are gently contacted. Therefore, play fighting by juveniles would appear to involve attack and defense of areas of the body contacted in adult precopulatory behavior, not adult fighting. Furthermore, the species?specific differences in juvenile play fighting were also found to be matched by species?specific differences in precopulatory behavior. In both playful and precopulatory encounters, montane voles contacted the head and used upright defensive behaviors more often than prairie voles. In contrast, prairie voles made mutual contact more often and were more likely to rotate to supine in defense of contact to the nape and head. These findings support our hypothesis that juvenile play fighting in muroid rodents involves the precocial expression of precopulatory, not agonistic behavior. Copyright © 1991 Wiley?Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company

play fighting by juvenile montane and prairie voles involves attack and defense of the head, neck and shoulders. Since during play animals typically borrow behavior patterns from other functional contexts, two adult behavioral contexts were compared to juvenile play fighting. These were serious fighting and sexual encounters. During serious fighting in a resident?intruder paradigm, most bites are directed at the rump and lower flanks. During sexual encounters, especially in precopulatory behavior, the head, neck and shoulders are gently contacted. Therefore, play fighting by juveniles would appear to involve attack and defense of areas of the body contacted in adult precopulatory behavior, not adult fighting. Furthermore, the species?specific differences in juvenile play fighting were also found to be matched by species?specific differences in precopulatory behavior. In both playful and precopulatory encounters, montane voles contacted the head and used upright defensive behaviors more often than prairie voles. In contrast, prairie voles made mutual contact more often and were more likely to rotate to supine in defense of contact to the nape and head. These findings support our hypothesis that juvenile play fighting in muroid rodents involves the precocial expression of precopulatory, not agonistic behavior. Copyright © 1991 Wiley?Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company

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