Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Prairie Voles' Cheatin' Heart Tied to Genes

by Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer | December 11, 2015 01:56pm ET

When it comes to relationships, does absence makes the heart grow fonder, or just forgetful? The latter may be true for prairie voles, and this absentmindedness could be inherited, according to a new study.

These mouselike rodents found in central North America are typically monogamous, but even faithful voles are known to sometimes stray. A new study peered at male voles on the genetic level, finding that one gene in particular plays an important role in deciding whether a vole will wander or stay close to home, and that this wandering may be linked to spatial memory.

Unlike most mammals, prairie voles bond for life (which is pretty short — only one to two years.) Once they've paired off, the males establish territories that they fiercely defend against trespassers.

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